Gatchalian urges gov’t to provide subsidies to private schools

Published June 8, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the national government to provide subsidies to private schools which are now struggling to keep afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian warned that neglecting these institutions could eventually lead to massive unemployment of private school teachers and staff, and the overcrowding of public schools.

The government, the senator said, should consider their inclusion in the Department of Finance’s (DOF) Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) measure which grants P5,000 to P8,000 to qualified workers from small businesses affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“One of the action plans that we are employing is to lobby very hard to include private schools in the SBWS of the government, and expanding other mechanisms,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture.

“For example, the government assistance to students and teachers in private education, so that the teachers will directly get some grants and some aid in the time of COVID-19,” he said.

If schools close because of revenue losses, the senator said teachers and personnel will lose their jobs and students could migrate to overstretched public schools.

He also said that when teachers lose jobs or shift careers, the shortage of teachers nationwide will impede learning continuity in the country.

Gatchalian noted that the education sector has the second highest number of job losses at 130,514, since the ECQ was implemented, based on the study conducted by the DOF and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on micro, small, and medium enterprises.

The same survey also revealed that the education sector is the fourth most battered in terms of revenue, with average losses of up to 76.8 percent.

Because of this, the senator said he is also mulling the expansion of the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) Program, which was instituted through Republic Act No. 6728, the GASTPE Act.

The law provides financial assistance to learners and teachers to help decongest public schools.

“Malaki ang naging epekto ng COVID-19 sa mga pribadong paaralan, pati na sa mga guro at kawani nito, pero hindi pa rin sila kwalipikado sa mga ayudang ipinapamahagi ng pamahalaan (The COVID-19 has a huge negative effect on private schools, including teachers and personnel, but until now, they are not qualified under the cash assistance program of the government),” Gatchalian lamented.

“Bilang mga katuwang natin sa pagbibigay ng dekalidad na edukasyon, kailangang tulungan natin ang mga pribadong paaralan na makatawid sa krisis na kinakaharap natin, (As our partners in education, we need to help private schools overcome this crisis we are all facing),” he added.

He said even the World Bank, in its report “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Shocks to Education and Policy Responses,” warned that cutting back teachers’ salaries or dismissing teachers could have long-term costs.

The World Bank cited the case of the United States during the 2008 financial crisis where nearly 300 thousand teachers and other school personnel lost their jobs, which appeared to have had substantial impacts on the quality of education.

The same report also found that even if public schools accept students from private institutions, their quality could further drop if they become overcrowded.