/ 17 March 2021

THE COLLEGE Editors Guild of the Philippines decried the filing of House Bill 8737 that seeks to regulate the conduct of off-campus educational activities, saying it will be used to curtail students’ academic freedom.

The group said the bill, also known as an “Act Regulating the Conduct of Off-Campus Educational Activities by Public and Private Schools,” will isolate them from liberating education that takes place at the grassroots, in neighborhoods and by immersion in the general public, which are critical for programs especially those in the field of social studies.

Under the bill, no off-campus educational activities shall be undertaken unless they are relevant and aligned with the educational competencies of the curriculum; part of program requirement embodied in the approved curriculum; or necessary to the acquisition of relevant knowledge, skills, and values of the learners.

The measure covers public and private schools.

“Except when the off-campus educational activity is indispensable in the completion of program or curriculum requirements, participation in such activity shall be on a voluntary basis only,” the bill stated.

The group added that the measure will oppress the academic freedom of the universities and colleges.

“The bill places academic freedom under threat especially with the rampant attacks and red-tagging through programs by the PNP, AFP, and NTF-ELCAC, such as Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo and disinformation fora, seminars, and conventions outside schools,” it said.