By Ellson Quismorio
Teachers from private schools ought to receive assistance from the government too during the current public health emergency, Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-List Rep. Bernadette Herrera said on Sunday.
This, as the Deputy Majority Leader prodded government to look into the plight of an estimated 300,000 private school teachers whose livelihood has been direly affected by the enforcement of restriction measures against COVID-19.
“Considering that there is much uncertainty on the enrollment of students which would consequently affect the ability of many private schools to sustain themselves, teachers and non-teaching personnel in private educational institutions should also be given assistance to help them cope with the effects of the pandemic,” Herrera said.
She noted that while teachers in public or government-ran schools are guaranteed their salaries during the pandemic, the same cannot be said of teachers in private schools whose income are drawn from students’ tuition.
Herrera expressed alarmed over reports that small private schools were deemed unqualified to get assistance from the government’s Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program, which provides wage subsidies of P5,000 or P8,000 per month to eligible employees in the private sector.
“If these private schools are not qualified under the SBWS program, then how will the government provide support for their teaching and non-teaching personnel during this global public health crisis?” asked Herrera.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), which serves as the unifying voice of private education in the country, claims that many private schools are on the verge of permanently closing down due to delays in school opening.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has set the reopening of classes, particularly for school year 2020 to 21, on August 24 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This is mostly to comply with Republic Act (RA) No.7977, which says that the given school year “shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”
However, a lot of parents are hesitating to enroll their kids immediately due to both health and financial concerns, while some are still holding their breath for a possible deferment of the entire school year from the President if and when the COVID-19 situation somehow gets worse.
For Herrera, it’s not surprising for private schools to suffer losses and resort to drastic measures since fees are collected per term and therefore teaching and non-teaching staff can only be remunerated when these fees are collected at the beginning of the term.
She warned that permanent closure of private schools would render their teaching and non-teaching personnel jobless.
“I therefore urge the government not to lose sight of the vulnerable disposition of private school teachers whose livelihood are currently being threatened,” Herrera said.