2M private school students to transfer to public schools or drop out due to COVID-19 crisis: officials

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2020 07:08 PM | Updated as of May 14 2020 10:41 PM

A resident walks past a barricade along Ipil Street corner N. Domingo in San Junan on April 20, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - About 2 million students studying in private educational institutions are expected to either enroll in public schools or drop out from studying this school year after their parents' income were affected by the coronavirus crisis, education officials said Thursday.

The enrolment rate in private schools have "steadily declined" before the coronavirus crisis, but the global pandemic is expected to halve the 4 million private school students in the Philippines, Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) managing director Joseph Estrada told the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

"Even prior to the pandemic the steady decline already reached 25 percent... because of a lot of factors. But we’re anticipating more [this year], around 50 percent," he said.

Millions of Filipinos lost their income after the government ordered the closure of non-essential industries in Luzon, the Philippines' most populous island, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The 2-month lockdown of the capital region, which accounts for about a third of the Philippines' gross domestic product, led to a decline in economic activity and shrunk the country's gross domestic product for the first time since 1998.

The migration of students to public schools is expected to be a "double whammy" for private schools during the coronavirus crisis, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chair Sherwin Gatchalian said.

"Mawawalan na sila ng mga estudyante, tapos magpa-practice pa sila ng social distancing which is kabawasan yan sa kita ng mga private school," he said, referring to the Department of Education's policy to limit a class to 20 students from the usual 30 to 40 learners.

(They will lose students, the they will also have to practice social distancing so this will decrease the revenue of private schools.)

Congress will try to expand the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) Program, which provides cash aid to teachers and students in private schools to decongest public learning institutions.

DepEd is also continuously trying to find ways to accommodate millions of students who will "migrate" to public schools, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said.

"Pinag-uusapan na namin paano matatap ang federation of parent-teachers association kasi magbabago ang role ng ating mga magulang sa ganitong sitwasyon," he said, referring to the DepEd's shift to a "blended" education system wherein students would also have to learn from online, television and radio platforms while at home.

(We are already discussing how to tap the federation of parent-teachers association because parents will have a different role in this situation.)

COCOPEA also appealed to the government to include private school teachers in its social amelioration program to help the educators keep their own children in private education facilities.