Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte assured representatives from private schools that the government will exhaust possible means to help them as they recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I ask for your indulgence as I also expect your support as we study and explore the appropriate measures to resolve issues and concerns that may adversely impact the education sector," Duterte said in a virtual meeting with the private schools on Monday, July 4.
Also attended by former Secretary Leonor Briones and former Undersecretary Tonisito Umali, the meeting aimed to introduce Duterte as the new Education Chief to representatives of private schools.
The virtual meeting also aimed to "bridge the relationship" between her office and the Private Educational Associations of the Philippines.
"I have heard the messages from three of our representatives of the National Private Education Associations. I have taken notes. And would like to assure you that we will take these issues into consideration — with the hope of coming up with appropriate actions and effective solutions " Duterte said in a message.
Duterte said that the country is still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the DepEd continues to provide basic education to children in the public school sector, she noted that the "effect of the pandemic on low-cost private schools was unprecedented."
"I understand that many private schools across the country are suffering from losses," Duterte said.
"Some private schools are facing closure. And a number have in fact already shut down," she added.
Duterte also noted that as a community, there is an "urgent need to build back and build back stronger and better."
The migration of students from private to public schools, she added, has put "enormous strain" on our public schools.
"Now that we are finally ready to open the doors to face-to-face classes, we need the help of our private schools in bringing our children and youth back to school," Duterte said.
She noted that while there are existing measures under the Enhanced Basic Education Act or Republic Act 10533, these measures were created before the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our task here is to protect our children and ensure that quality education is made accessible for them — whether they are enrolled in private or public schools, whether they are in the cities or the countryside," she said.
Given this, the new DepEd Secretary said she looks "forward to forging a productive partnership" with the private education sector.