right of students to enroll in review centers of their choice

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure protecting the right of students to enroll in review centers of their choice in preparation for the licensure examinations.

Rep. Teodoro Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna), author of House Bill 3546, said the bill seeks to eliminate the practice of some schools of compelling their graduates to enroll in a particular review center and withholding their scholastic documents if they refuse to do so.

"The controversial nursing board exam in 2006 brought to the fore not only the problem of cheating conducted by some nursing review centers but other irregularities as well," Casiño said.

"The bill aims precisely to protect the rights of students to choose their own review centers. Any school which compels its students to take board review classes or study in a particular review center will be penalized and their permit to operate revoked," Casiño added.

Rep. Pryde Henry Teves (3rd District, Negros Oriental), another author of the bill, said there are cases where universities and colleges are performing things that are entirely opposite to their ideal purpose such as taking full advantage of their authority and conduct their undertaking like a business rather than as a profession.

"This kind of action should be immediately prevented in order to bail out schools from being prone to corruption and dirty transactions. The school shall be a location for knowledge and wisdom development and must be deprived from being an establishment of dishonesty and cheating. With the aid of this law, the right of the students to enjoy the gift of democracy by way of choosing their own review class will be put into assurance," Teves said.

Under the measure to be known as the "Protection of Students' Rights to Enroll in Review Centers Act," the right of students to enroll in review centers of their choice is protected.

The bill covers all public and private higher educational institutions (HEIs), including local colleges and universities offering courses that require professional licensure examinations.

The bill provides a penalty of six years imprisonment and a fine of P750,000 for violations of unlawful acts such as compelling students enrolled in courses requiring professional examinations to take review classes, which are not part of the curriculum, in a review center of the HEI's choice and making such review classes a prerequisite for graduation or completion of the course.

Furthermore, the bill prohibits educational institutions from forcing students to enroll in a review center of the school’s choice and to pay the corresponding fees that include transportation as well as board and lodging and the withholding of the transcript of scholastic records, diploma, certification or any essential document of the student to be used in support of the application for the professional licensure examinations so as to compel students to attend in a review center of the HEI's choice.

Co-authors of the measure include Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), Neri Javier Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna), Raymond Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan), Antonio Tinio (Party-list, Act Teachers), Rafael Mariano (Party-list, ANAKPAWIS), Luzviminda C. Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela).