By Merlina Malipot
While hiring teachers without license is a violation of the guidelines mandated by the Department of Education (DepEd), private schools were assured that they will not be closed down without going through the proper channels.
“Due process is still required before DepEd can close the school,” Education lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada told the Manila Bulletin. “Definitely, they cannot close within the school year because students will be affected and displaced,” he added.
Estrada noted that private schools “have the right to exhaust administrative remedies all the way up to the Secretary’s office,” he explained, pertaining to the office of Education Secretary Leonor Briones. “If it becomes very urgent the schools can ask the courts of law to intervene,” he added.
Earlier, a group of private schools expressed concern on the recent directive issued by the DepEd National Capital Region (NCR) reminding them on “minimum qualification of teaching personnel.” The Federation of Associations of Private Schools & Administrators (FAPSA) said that this will “lead to the closure” of many private schools because they will lose teachers.
Officer-in-Charge Wilfredo Cabral issued Regional Memorandum No. 78 series of 2018 “in order to warrant and continue the delivery of quality basic education in both public and private schools.”
Cabral said that the said memo was issued “in line with the mandate of the law to this Office to ensure compliance of private schools with the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education.”
“It is to be emphasized that with the provision of minimum educational qualification for teaching personnel, the manual still prescribes that teaching personnel in private basic education institutions should have passed the LET [Licensure Examination for Teachers ] except for instances allowed by the law,” Cabral said in the memo.
In the same memo, Cabral reminded all private schools in the NCR “to strictly comply with the provision of the manual” and warned that “any violation thereof may be a ground for administrative sanction.”
Estrada said that there is a range of administrative sanctions for private schools that are found to be hiring unlicensed teachers. He explained that schools that are in the permit phase “will not be given recognition” or “those with recognition may be downgraded to permit status.”
DepEd, Estrada noted, may also “order the closure of the private school concerned.” As per DepEd, private schools that were not issued permits to operate are not recognized by the Department – thus, they are not operating legally.
Meanwhile, Estrada noted that the effect of losing DepEd recognition is “being disqualified from implementing government subsidy programs for students” such as Educational Service Contracting (ESC) under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE).
The ESC aims decongest public secondary schools by “contracting” the excess capacities of private high schools through the provision of subsidies for students who, “otherwise, would have gone to the public high schools.” It was a response to “stresses and strains at the high school level in both the public and private school.”
Under the ESC, DepEd data showed that it has provided subsidies to 970, 578 Junior High School (JHS) grantees in formal school – including 2,510 grantees in open high school program which is a four (4) percent increase from SY 2016-2017.
With appropriation of P10.67 billion in 2018, DepEd said that it targets to reach 1, 041,822 grantees wherein 2, 734 of which are in open high school program and 41, 659 teachers’ salary subsidy recipients. Under the SHS Voucher Program (SHS VP), DepEd provided subsidies to 1, 207, 400 SHS VP beneficiaries (VPBs) in private SHSs/SUCs/LUCs amounting to P20, 692, 903, 776.
With an appropriation of P14.43 billion in 2018, DepEd is targeting to subsidize 1, 136, 240 VBPs in private SHSs and 86, 081 VBPs in non-DepEd SHSs.