MANILA - More than 800 private schools in the Philippines offering basic education will not operate this academic year, affecting tens of thousands of learners and teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Monday.
The latest data from DepEd showed that the number of private schools suspending operations for School Year 2020 to 2021 reached 865, nearly double from the figure the agency reported in late August or less than a month ago. More than 14,000 private schools opened last school year.
The closures affect 58,327 learners and 4,488 teachers, based on the data, which was sourced from reports of DepEd field offices.
Most of the schools ceasing operations come from Central Luzon, with 141 institutions, followed by Calabarzon with 136, and Metro Manila with 126.
While majority of the schools cited "no or low enrollment" as their reasons for temporary closure, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said some of the private institutions could not comply with the department's requirements on distance learning.
"Hindi sila makapagbigay noong mga requirement natin on the alternative [learning] modalities," Mateo said in a virtual press briefing after he was asked why some private schools would close despite government subsidy given to students through the Senior High School Voucher Program.
(They could not comply with the requirements for alternative learning modalities.)
"Kailangan 'yong safety and welfare ng mga personnel. So kailangan sila mag-submit ng health protocols consistent with the health protocols ng ating kagawaran at saka ng inter-agency task force. Maliban doon, may concerns about the learning management system," he added.
(They need to ensure the safety and welfare of the personnel. So they needed to submit health protocols consistent with the health protocols of the department and the inter-agency task force. Aside from that, there were concerns about the learning management system.)
A group of private school administrators earlier urged DepEd to suspend the implementation of a department order setting distance learning requirements.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said President Rodrigo Duterte and lawmakers are "taking this phenomenon seriously" and looking for ways so displaced private school teachers can cope with the closures.
Duterte signed last week the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) that would give allowance to qualified students, and displaced teaching and non-teaching personnel.
Displaced private school teachers may also apply for plantilla teaching positions in the DepEd, said Mateo.
As of Monday, more than 2 million learners have enrolled in private schools nationwide, or 48 percent from last year's total number of private school students, according to DepEd data.
Briones has said the migration of private school students to public schools has stopped in the last 2 weeks.
So far, over 398,000 private school students have transferred to public schools, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on the income of families.