Thousands of students, teachers affected by private schools' temporary closure

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 02:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 09 2020 05:29 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The number of private schools suspending operations in the upcoming academic year has risen to over 700, affecting thousands of students and teachers, the Department of Education said Wednesday.

According to DepEd data, 748 private schools gave notice that they would not open for School Year 2020 to 2021, 344 more than the figure that the DepEd reported in August.

The temporary closures would affect 40,345 learners and 3,233 teachers, according to DepEd data.

"Temporary lang ang closures nila pero kung maganda-ganda na next year, magbubukas na po sila," Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said in a virtual press briefing.

(Their closures are temporary but if the situation improves by next year, they will open again.)

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said a major reason for the temporary closures was the migration of private school students to public schools, attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the income of families.

Thousands of students, teachers affected by private schools' temporary closure 1

Another factor, Briones said, was the migration of teachers from private to public schools, which was already a concern even before the pandemic.

"Wala pang COVID, wala pang downturn ng economy, nagma-migrate na ang private school teachers dahil 'di mahabol ng mga maliliit na private schools ang compensation at benefits ng mga nasa public schools," Briones said.

(Before COVID, before the downturn of the economy, private school teachers were already migrating because small private schools could not give the same compensation and benefits that are given in public schools.)

But Briones said there have been improvements in private school enrollment as economic activity resumed after government relaxed COVID-19 lockdowns in the country.

"Dahil pinaluwagan na natin ang ating ekonomiya, unti-unti namang nagbabalikan ang ating private learners," said Briones.

(Because we have eased quarantine restrictions for our economy, our private learners are slowly coming back.)

Briones also said the migration of private school students to public schools has stopped in the past 2 weeks.

As of Wednesday, more than 2 million learners have registered in private schools, according to DepEd data. The figure is less than half of last year's 4.3 million private school students.

Joseph Noel Estrada, managing director of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations, said he hoped enrollment in private schools improve once the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) is signed into law.

Bayanihan 2 will provide allowances for qualified students, displaced teachers and non-teaching personnel.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the measure into law next week, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.