Gov’t subsidy could have saved hundreds of private schools from closure — group

Published October 18, 2021, 2:03 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A group said that hundreds of private schools could have been spared from closing down amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic if only they were given subsidies that would help them sustain their operations.

(RIO DELUVIO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“With this pandemic, there is a need to review all policies on private school regulations, especially on government subsidies,” Federation of Associations of Private Schools Administrators (FAPSA) President Eleazardo Kasilag said.

Kasilag noted that the government has a way to subsidize the private schools through Fund Assistance for Private Education (FAPE).

For its 2021 budget, Kasilag said that the government has allocated P606.5 billion for the Department of Education (DepEd). FAPSA believes the “present government is not aware of the billions of pesos appropriated for private schools yet not shared with the more than 6,000 small and medium-sized schools.”

Kasilag alleged that billions of pesos allocation like the voucher and subsidy emanating from the government as assistance are coursed thru FAPE “but never enjoyed by small private schools.”

“Many FAPSA non-sectarian schools tried to apply for membership with FAPE but were declined,” Kasilag said.

For instance, Kasilag noted that in basic education, “only Catholic schools are members thus, sectarian schools are not included.” Meanwhile, he added that “Christian schools are allowed only if the schools have [a] college department or if it is a university.”

Kasilag mentioned that there is also a need to revisit the Executive Order (EO)No. 156 constituted the “Fund for Assistance to Private Education” as an irrevocable trust fund, creating a “Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC)” as trustee, and providing for the management thereof.

“FAPE took strong exemption to limiting the choice of management to government preferring PEAC’S discretion instead,” Kasilag said.

Kasilag noted that the more than 6,000 FAPSA schools were not around then, making the EO “passé and no longer representative of private schools.”

However, he stressed that the spirit of the executive order is not for “exclusivity but inclusivity” in the private education sector.

Thus, FAPSA appeals for “fairness” to help schools outside of FAPE to avoid closure.

For FAPSA, “fairness” means P22,500 for each student in Metro Manila; P18, 500 if the student is enrolled outside the National Capital Region (NCR); and P12, 000 for each private school teacher.

Kasilag said that this subsidy would be “enough” to keep the medium-sized schools resilient and could have saved 900 schools that were forced to close amidst the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the group is pushing for the amendment of the “discriminating” EO to give subsidies to all private schools – including those under FAPSA.

“FAPSA needs to fight for the rights of the medium-sized schools because silence takes that right away,” Kasilag said. “After all, it is the needy and the helpless that need assistance and it is the money of Juan de la Cruz being spent here by the billions,” he added.

 
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