by Christian Deiparine – Philstar.com, 21 Sep 2021
MANILA, Philippines — A network of private schools on Tuesday sought for financial aid from the government amid another low turnout in enrollment during the second year of distance learning in the country.
Enrollment data from the Department of Education showed there are only 1.99 million students enrolled in private institutions as of September 20.
That figure is out of the 3.37 million enrollees in 2020, and way below the 4.30 million in the school year before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The managing director of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations told Laging Handa some of their members are already in a “critical state” and are worried how to continue operations.
Last year, DepEd said 865 private schools were forced to fully halt work with a low number of students, as many transferred to public schools.
“Even school personnel are also affected,” said lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada in Filipino. “We request and pray for economic intervention.”
The COCOPEA official said this could be done through a government subsidy directly distributed to families that could help keep their schools in operation.
Estrada added there had been assistance from the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, and hopes there would be another round.
“Especially now that there is a need to transition to face-to-face delivery and there would be additional costs,” he said in Filipino. “Instead of passing that to our students and their parents, it would be good to give them subsidy.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has given his approval for a return to limited in-person learning. But there is no date yet and officials admit they still need to iron out the implementing guidelines.
DepEd said 100 public schools would be the first in this and would eventually include 20 private schools.
While Duterte has given his nod, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said teachers participating in the pilot run would need not to be vaccinated. Government has also yet to open inoculation for children.
Estrada said vaccination on teachers and students are some of the things parents have asked COCOPEA about.
“There are already those who want to have in-person classes but remain to have doubts on its safety,” he added in Filipino.