Press Release
October 1, 2014

Outlaw Exam Ban on Students for Non-payment
of Tuition Fees -- Sen. Bam

Banning students from taking examinations for failure to pay tuition fees will be outlawed once a measure filed by Senator Bam Aquino is enacted into law.

If enacted into law, Aquino's Senate Bill No. 2369, or the "Students' Rights and Welfare Act of 2014," will punish violators of imprisonment of up to five years and fine of up to P100,000.

If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president, treasurer, secretary or any officer or person responsible for the violation.

"If the offender is a public officer or employee, the Court shall, in addition to the penalties above, order his or her dismissal from government service," said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

Explaining his measure, Aquino stressed that while education plays a vital role in shaping the youth as future leaders of the country, they must be equipped with more than just knowledge, skills and attitudes to enable them to contribute meaningfully to society.

"While there is an effort to improve the technical content and curriculum, and the delivery and instruction, there is also a need to reform the non-academic side of education," said Aquino, who, during his time as a student council president, Aquino fought for the rights and welfare of his fellow students.

"When I was in the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral in the Ateneo de Manila University, we worked on the student handbook that discussed the rights and welfare of students, and encouraged the student body to join the different volunteer organizations," the senator said.

Aquino said the bill seeks to broaden the focus of education institutions towards a more holistic formation of students.

"By providing a national framework for students' rights and welfare, this measure seeks to create conducive atmosphere to maximize their learning and growth," the senator said.

"Students are no longer just the future of the country. We count on them to be leaders in their communities in the here and now," he added.

The bill seeks to strengthen students' rights, including the right against discrimination in educational institutions, right to competent instruction and accessible, quality, relevant education and the right to organize.

Also, Aquino said the students' right to establish a student council or government, right to adequate welfare services and academic facilities and have a representation in the school's highest policy-making body would be assured.

Other students' rights that will be strengthened by the bill are right to information, freedom of expression, academic freedom, academic procedure, privacy, access to school records and issuance of official certificates and the right against illegal searches and seizures.

The students' welfare will also be safeguarded through the banning of firearms in schools and the prohibition of unauthorized school fees and other tariffs.

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