Senator Win Gatchalian raised the urgency of giving government aid to struggling private schools as enrollment in these institutions reached only 24.3 percent from last year’s 4 million.
Out of 20,220,507 learners enrolled nationwide as of July 15, only 1,050,437 are enrolled in private schools. The Department of Education (DepEd) also reported that 323,524 learners from private schools, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local universities and colleges (LUCs) have moved to public schools. DepEd clarified earlier that enrollment is still ongoing in some private institutions.
According to Gatchalian, ensuring the continued implementation of government subsidy programs, including the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS VP) and the Education Service Contracting (ESC) will help learners to continue their education while giving relief to private schools, especially those who are struggling to sustain operations because of lockdown measures and postponed enrollment.
The SHS VP is a program of financial assistance wherein subsidies in the form of vouchers are provided to qualified SHS learners from private or non-DepEd schools. The ESC, on the other hand, utilizes the excess capacities of certified private junior high schools by allocating slots to students who would have gone to public schools. The slots come with subsidies called ESC grants.
Gatchalian added that there should be enough allocations for these programs under the 2021 budget so as not to reduce the number of beneficiaries as it could lead to a potential spike in dropouts.
To help private schools stay afloat, Gatchalian emphasized the need to give direct subsidies to teachers and personnel, some of whom are being paid so little since the imposition of quarantine measures.
According to the lawmaker, this adds urgency to passing the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Senate Bill No. 1564) or Bayanihan 2.0, which has a provision to give one-time cash assistance to affected teaching and non-teaching personnel in private schools. Bayanihan 2.0 also aims to give tuition subsidies to learners who are not covered by government educational subsidies and voucher programs.
“Ang mga pribadong paaralan ay ating mga katuwang sa pagbibigay ng dekalidad na edukasyon sa ating mga kabataan. Upang hindi matigil ang kanilang pagbibigay ng edukasyon, kailangang ipagpatuloy natin ang pagbibigay ng tulong sa kanila habang nasa gitna tayo ng krisis na dulot ng COVID-19,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Gatchalian concluded that with the help of the government and other sectors, private schools should ramp up their re-enrollment campaigns so they can reach learners who are at risk of dropping out and ensure that no child will be left behind including children in private schools.