Owners of 2,000 educational institutions in the Philippines cancelled classes for four million students yesterday in protest against a congressional bill boosting student rights. It is the first time private school owners have united to condemn government policy. The institutions which locked out students included some of the country's most respected universities, elementary schools and kindergartens. The bill, called the 'Magna Carta of Students', is due for its second reading in the House of Representatives. Most bills which pass their second reading become law. Carlito Pablo, president of the Co-ordinating Council of Private Educational Associations, said they wanted provisions which gave students 'decision-making powers' over how institutions were run removed or toned down. The provisions include having a student representative on the board of governors, giving student councils the power to hold referendums to veto administrative decisions and granting students a certain amount of power in the screening of teachers. The bill also seeks to guarantee that no student be denied admission because of his religious beliefs, that institutions be required to provide 'adequate and safe' dormitories, and that officials respect the freedom of expression. Many of the country's foremost institutions are run by the Catholic Church, and students often get expelled for supposedly 'immoral behaviour', while editors of student papers get suspended for printing 'obscene material'. Most of the universities in Manila do not have the facilities to house their students, many of whom are forced to crowd into fire traps.