MANILA - A teachers' group on Thursday urged the Philippine government to hire teachers who have been displaced after more than 700 private schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to recent data from the Department of Education, 748 private schools gave notice that they would not open for the new school year, 344 more than the figure the government agency reported in August.
Teachers’ Dignity Coalition said in a statement that "private schools are considered as partners of public school system in the delivery of education service to the Filipino" and should not be thought as competition.
"More so, teachers in private educational institutions are part of the working-class- the men and women who labor to keep the economy going and among those that were severely hit by the socio-economic crisis following the pandemic," said Benjo Basas, TDC national chairperson.
"Thus, the schools as institutions and the teachers as individuals should be assisted by the government in these tough times."
Basas stressed there must be a comprehensive assistance package for affected educators, especially those who work in small private schools that are dependent on enrollment fees for operations, and mission schools in far-flung areas that serve lesser fortunate communities.
"The government may think of some sort of subsidy and incentives. This may decrease the enrollment in the already congested public schools,” he said.
Basas said that due to the closure of the affected private schools, migration of both students and teachers to public schools is more than expected.
“Because of this mass migration, our public schools will experience a sudden rise in enrollment, at least in some specific areas, that will eventually be the cause of heavy workloads for our teachers who are now still trying to cope with the new teaching modalities,” he emphasized.
The temporary closures would affect 40,345 students and 3,233 teachers, according to DepEd data.
Basas called on government to dole out aid to affected teachers and prioritize the eligible ones in hiring for plantilla positions. He also appealed to DepEd to structure the hiring procedure for the posts so other positions included in the 2020 national budget could be filled up immediately before class resumption on Oct. 5
“This, of course, would need funds, that’s why we address our appeal to Congress to apportion the required budget,” he said.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations earlier said it hoped enrollment in private schools will improve under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) law. The measure provides allowances for qualified students, displaced teachers and non-teaching personnel.