By Merlina Hernando Malipot
A national association of Catholic schools urged their members to “fight for their schools” as they face a myriad of challenges in the country’s educational landscape brought about by recent reforms by the government.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), in a statement, expressed the concerns of private schools and called on the government to address the issues they have been raising. Representatives of CEAP member schools are currently gathered at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City for its 77th national convention from October 2 to 5.
Among the concerns of private schools include the K to 12 implementation which “resulted in increased capital and operational costs” and the “skewed implementation” of the Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education Act that universally grants admission to all students in the SUCs regardless of economic status “but has neglected the measures for student assistance for qualified beneficiaries opting to study in private colleges.”
CEAP also expressed concerns on the implementation of the TRAIN 2 bill, which according the group, “seeks to challenge the existing status quo of tax benefits afforded to private schools.” They also pointed out that the implementation of salary increase for public school teachers will result in “massive migration of its teachers to the public sector.”
The association also lamented the “continued assault on private education” by policy makers and implementors with “unfunded mandates that even borders on violating the academic freedom enjoyed by private higher educational institutions.” Lastly, CEAP noted that the situation of private schools is further “aggravated by the tendency of some unenlightened politicians” to craft policies killing the private sector and ultimately eroding the constitutionally guaranteed “complementarity between public and private education,” among others.
Time to fight
Given all these, CEAP encourages its members to “fight for their schools” particularly against the tendency of “unenlightened politicians to kill the complementarity between public and private education in this country when they develop public education by crowding out, smothering and strangling private education” and those who are “cowed by the leftists who demand that all Philippine education be given through one system of education that is run by the State, one subject to corruption, inefficiency and politicking.”
CEAP also urges its member schools to fight the politicians “who believe that the problems of Philippine education are best solved by multiplying state universities and colleges and local colleges and universities” as well as those “who would subject all Filipinos and Filipinas to one uniform centrally administered educational system.”
The group is calling the “fair and complete implementation” of RA 10931 as it is not just a “free tuition in SUCs law.” They want the member schools to “fight against its skewed implementation which favors SUCs and LUCs” and “object vigorously” to the late publication of the IRRS which have deprived qualified beneficiaries of access to the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) and the Student Loan Program, even while free education in SUCs was already being implemented.
CEAP said that there is a need to fight the “pernicious lie or the reckless hope” that the country can afford free quality education for all. “Quality education has a price [and] those who wish to benefit from it must be willing to pay for it,” the association said.
The group is also calling for a performance evaluation on the implementation of the K to 12 law as well as “greater relevance in policy making by developing a politically relevant constituency that supports the agenda of catholic private education in their service of the common good.”
CEAP said that there is a need to “fight by developing a mindset that moves away from thinking that the State can solve all problems – or even pay for all the salaries and bills of private schools” and to “collaborate – when necessary – “but remain steadfast in the resolve to advocate and advance the interests of private Catholic education.”