MANILA — The Department of Education on Thursday appealed to private schools to defer increases in tuition and other fees for the coming school year due to financial constraints that parents and students may be facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We recognize the need to ensure the sustainability of private educational institutions so that they may continue to be viable partners in the delivery of quality basic education services in the country," the DepEd said in a statement.
"However, this objective must be balanced with the accessibility of these services to learners, particularly those whose families are experiencing financial difficulties brought by the imposition of necessary COVID-19 management measures," it added.
The education department also asked private schools to be transparent in the structure of tuition and miscellaneous fees.
There have been concerns that certain school charges are not consistent with the implementation of distance learning, according to the DepEd.
"We understand that there are new expenses that come with distance learning, but there are also diminished expenses in light of the major change in learning delivery modality," the agency said.
The DepEd earlier said private schools seeking to raise tuition rates need to justify their requests.
The department added it would meet with major private school associations next week to talk about concerns over a recent order which sets "non-negotiable" requirements on distance learning.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) earlier criticized the DepEd for issuing the order without consulting affected parties.
As of Thursday, 558,705 learners have enrolled in private schools nationwide, according to DepEd data. Last year, around 4.3 million students were registered in private schools.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said she expected the figure in private educational institutions to go up in the coming weeks as most schools would start enrollment in July.
The Cocopea has estimated that around 2 million private school students were expected to either enroll in public schools or drop out from studying this school year after their parents' income were affected by the pandemic.
The DepEd has set the opening of classes on August 24 but private schools may start earlier upon seeking the approval of regional directors.