400 private schools at risk of closure: group

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 05:21 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA -- Around 400 private schools are at risk of closing down as they are running out of resources to maintain operations, according to a recent survey conducted by a group of administrators.

Out of 500 schools that responded to a survey by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), 80 percent or 400 are considering closing down by the end of August unless they are given government assistance, the group's managing director, Joseph Noel Estrada, said Thursday.

"Hindi na nila kakayanin [mag-operate] beyond August kung hindi pa magbubukas klase at kung hindi pa magkakaroon ng assistance from the government," he told Teleradyo.

(They can no longer operate beyond August if classes don't start or the government does not provide assistance.)

Cocopea is the largest umbrella organization of private educational institutions in the country, with 2,500 schools as members.

At a Senate hearing last May, the group said it expected about 2 million private school students to either transfer to public schools or drop out from studying after their parents' income were affected by the pandemic.

Estrada appealed to the government to expand its subsidy programs to poor students in private schools, such as the Education Service Contracting for junior high students, vouchers for senior high students, and the Tertiary Education Subsidy in colleges and universities.

"Since ngayon lahat naman tayo economically affected, sana i-expand 'yong tulong na 'yon, hindi lang sa existing grantees prior to the pandemic," he said.

(Since we are all economically affected, we hope these subsidy programs would be expanded to cover not only existing grantees prior to the pandemic.)

Estrada also called on government to provide wage subsidies for school personnel.

As of Thursday morning, 414,436 learners have enrolled in private schools nationwide, according to data from the Department of Education.

Around 4.3 million students were registered in private schools during the previous school year.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said she was in talks with other government officials to provide financial assistance to teachers in small private schools.

The education department has scheduled the coming academic year to start on August 24 but private schools are allowed to open earlier upon the approval of the agency's regional director.

Schools are set to implement distance learning after in-person classes have been prohibited to avoid exposing students and teachers to the risk of the new coronavirus.