Education Secretary Leonor Briones expressed concern on the growing phenomenon of small private schools closing down which is mostly attributed to lack of enrollees as well as teachers.
“There’s a phenomenon of small private schools closing – not the big ones which are happily surviving — but the small ones, mostly in the provinces but also in cities,” Briones told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.
While enrollment in both public and private schools continues to increase every year, Briones received reports of many small private schools closing down. “They are, in a sense, losing students and teachers,” she explained.
“We have this phenomenon of migration – from private to public, not only of students but also of teachers,” Briones said. She is referring to students who transfer from private schools to public schools for numerous reasons. She also noted that many private schools close down because they continue to lose teachers – many of whom prefer to teach in public schools because of higher salaries and other benefits.
For instance, Briones noted that a private school in Palawan has closed down and its owner decided to donate the school to the DepEd.
Briones said that DepEd is looking into the possibility of “renting” the space of nearby private schools to address overcrowding of students in public schools that are located in highly-urbanized areas. “Renting space of private schools is possible, that can be done but that action is in response to the situation,” she said.
“But we have to look at the root of the problem, why are they closing down when they also have their own functions and their own contributions,” Briones said. “It can be seen as a practical solution but we really have to look at why small private schools are closing,” she added.
In an earlier statement, the Federation of Associations of Private Schools & Administrators (FAPSA) also expressed concern over the growing number of private schools that are closing down.
If small private schools continue to close down, FAPSA President Eleazardo Kasilag said that “education shall be a choice between schools for the rich and the free public schools for the poor [because] the affordable private schools for the middle class will simply disappear.”
Kasilag noted that these small private schools close down because many of their students transfer to public schools “to save” money while teachers also leave “to earn” more money.
Thus, FAPSA has been pushing for the creation of the “Bureau of Private School” since DepEd is focused heavily on the public schools.
“This is not for us…this is for our teachers, for our maintenance people, parents and students who can afford our education as government partner in building the nation,” Kasilag said. If small private schools continue to close down, he said that the “DepEd and the government shall take care” of the students and teachers since they will have to be absorbed by the public school system.