Struggling private schools in the country shouldn't be left to "die".
Such was the appeal of Quezon City 5th district Rep. Alfred Vargas to the Department of Education (DepEd), which he feels could be more proactive in supporting private schools already in dire straits.
"I personally met with members of the Association of Private School Administrators (APSA) - Quezon City and many of them voice their fear that with the opening of face-to-face classes in public schools, there will even be less concern for private schools from the ," Vargas bared in a statement over the weekend.
"We cannot let private schools just die like an unattended patient and casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic," he added.
In a draft resolution, Vargas called out the lack of action to address the retrenchment of teachers and staff, affected students, and the closure of schools during the pandemic. "Every private school closure is a tragic loss to learning and should be treated with concern by the State with the same gravity and seriousness," he said.
Vargas described the private school sector's plight as a brewing "education crisis".
"Millions of children are now at risk of falling behind and, without intervention, the two-fold public health crisis and social welfare crisis of Covid-19 threatens to transform into an education crisis, disrupting the development of the youth who we behold to be the 'Pag-asa ng Bayan (Hope of the Nation),'" he explained.
Vargas cited United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that the economic shock of the pandemic has placed private schools, especially low-cost private schools, in significant financial stress.
According to UNICEF, only two million out of a former 4.3 million students in private schools had reenrolled at the beginning of the pandemic in the Philippines.
In his draft resolution, Vargas said the DepEd should address the serious concerns of private schools nationwide “and explore whole-of-government and whole-of-society solutions aimed at supporting all our education stakeholders".
“Wage subsidies and other forms of financial support to private schools and their teachers should be studied as among the measures that could alleviate their conditions,” he said.
The three-term solon echoed civil society concerns over a "learning and child development catastrophe" if the needed support of the education stakeholders are not met.
He recalled that apart from restrictions on social gathering, the struggles of private schools are also a direct result of the "socio-economic shock of the pandemic to learners and students’ families, who could no longer bear the cost of tuition and matriculation fees and were forced to renege on their payment obligations to their schools".