Private schools to DepEd: Suspend order on distance learning requirements

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 08:31 PM

MANILA - A group of private school administrators on Wednesday urged the Department of Education to suspend the implementation of a recent order which sets "non-negotiable" requirements on distance learning.

Joseph Noel Estrada, managing director of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (Cocopea), said the requirements set by DepEd's Order No. 13 Series of 2020 would "further marginalize struggling private schools."

"What private schools need now is policy interventions to allow it to transition to flexible learning modalities with ease," Estrada said in a statement.

Estrada, whose group includes 2,500 private schools as members, added that no consultation was held prior to the issuance of the department order.

"This is not an inter-agency or inter-office memo. For this magnitude of impact to schools and even learners, it behooves DepEd to follow administrative due process in it's quasi-legislative function," he said.

Under the order, the DepEd required private schools adopting online distance learning to provide an education platform or learning management system, technical expertise to run and support the platform 24 hours a day, complete and appropriate content for the whole first quarter of the school year, and access to devices and connectivity for students and teachers, among others.

For modular distancing learning, schools must have complete learning modules for the first quarter in print and e-copy, and references or supplementary materials for students, based on the order.

Parents must have expressed willingness for modular or online distance learning, and to co-supervise the learning of their children, according to the order.

"With the public pressure from parents, including government officials, to reduce tuition, where will the private schools get the financial wherewithal to fund the 'non-negotiable minimum requirements' set by the DepEd in D.O. 13?" said Estrada.

The Cocopea earlier said 400 of its member schools are at risk of closing down as they are running out of resources to maintain operations.

On Tuesday, 491,980 learners have enrolled in private schools, according to DepEd data.

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

Schools are set to implement distance learning as in-person classes are prohibited to avoid exposing students and teachers to the risk of the new coronavirus while a vaccine has yet to be developed. 

A full copy of the department order can be read below: