By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Looking forward to “optimistic results,” the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) on Friday said that it has started initiatives to work with the Department of Education (DepEd) on the proposed revisions to the manual of regulations for private schools in basic education.
“We have received a copy of the proposal as of July 3 and we have submitted our written position to the Department of Education last July 30,” COCOPEA Managing Director and Spokesperson lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada told the Manila Bulletin – pertaining to the proposed changes and revisions to the existing manual.
The Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, as per DepEd, aims “to ensure the alignment to reforms in the basic education and to adopt effective and efficient processes.”
In issuing the Manual, the DepEd is putting into place “the mechanisms and procedures” that constitute the “regulatory process” which will guide DepEd offices across governance levels, private schools and other stakeholders in the exercise of the agency’s “authority over private schools towards the achievement of basic education outcomes.”
At this point, Estrada noted that “the serious concerns of the private schools cannot be overemphasized as the proposals seem to change drastically the policy environment in education.” Without going through the details of the proposed policy changes, he noted that this is “understandable” coming from a regulatory framework of the DepEd.
Estrada said that COCOPEA – as the largest organization of private schools in the country – has the “duty to present the private school perspective to the DepEd.” The Council remains hopeful that concerned sectors would be able to “attain that right balance with the necessary complementation between public and private sectors in education in formulating” the revised Manual of Regulations. “Ultimately, it will be the youth of our country who will benefit from this exercise,” he added.
In the previous years, Estrada said that the COCOPEA has also been partnering with the DepEd – particularly in the implementation of the student subsidies under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) law. It has also been working with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the implementation of the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).
“We have started our initiatives to dialogue and work with DepEd on the proposed Manual and we are optimistic with the results,” Estrada said.
Appeal to DepEd
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education also appealed to Education Secretary Leonor Briones and her management team to “rethink the revisions” on the DepEd’s Manual of Regulations for Private Schools and “thoroughly consult all stakeholders on the issue.”
“We recognize DepEd’s supervisory powers over private schools, but we feel that our stakeholders in the sector should be apprised fully about the end goal of the regulatory framework that is in the revised manual,” said Villanueva – who also serves as the chair of the Senate Committee on Higher and Technical Education – in a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin.
Earlier, the Federation of Associations of Private Schools Administrators (FAPSA) expressed alarm on the possible implications of the revisions made on the manual of regulation of private schools in basic education set to be issued by the DepEd.
For FAPSA, the revised manual could sound the “death knell” to private schools once fully implemented. The group also alleged that there was “no consultation” regarding the revision of the said manual.
In particular, FAPSA expressed concern on the revised policies on the grant of recognition to private schools; issues on transfer credentials of students with arrears; and the three-year probationary period of teachers in the private schools reduced to six months citing Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) policy.
On the shortened probationary period of teachers, Villanueva noted that “we have always given weight to the good judgment of our education agencies in imposing the existing three-year probation for teachers to give a better and holistic assessment of the teacher’s performance.” He added that a “teacher’s aptitude and approach to pedagogy needs sufficient time to be appreciated and evaluated to gauge its fitness to the overall objectives of educators which is to impart knowledge to our youth.”
If the revisions on the Manual are fully implemented, FAPSA believes that the list of smaller private schools that have closed down due to low number of enrollees and lack of teachers – among other operational concerns – will become even longer.