More private schools face risk of closure

More private schools are at risk of closing down due to low enrolment caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the absence of government support to help them survive and sustain their operations.

Eleazardo Kasilag, president of the Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators, said many private schools, especially the small ones, have been forced to shut down due to the effects of the pandemic.

“You have to realize this (pandemic) started in 2019, so this is already three years, and during that time private schools already suffered financial losses,” Kasilag told this reporter in an interview.

“So, the better option is to shut down schools,” Kasilag said in the aftermath of the closure of Colegio de San Lorenzo in Quezon City due to low enrollment.

Kasilag, who owns St. Nicholas School in Marikina City, said he resolved to close their elementary and high school departments and maintain only the pre-school because only one teacher and an aide are needed.

“Regardless of how stable one gets to stay pliant with the storm, the sturdy roots can only take so much for even tough institution withers, and St. Nicholas School’s high school and elementary departments bowed out,” Kasilag said.

Prime mover

He said his school has been in existence for 45 years since 1977.

“There were only 17 private schools in the city of Marikina then, now it has grown to 120 and counting. It has seen its heyday — has been the lead school in Marikina Private School Administrators.
As Mariprisa head, the school eventually became a prime mover of FAPSA,” he added.

St. Nicholas, he said, has withstood the test of time but the school bows down this time being hardest hit by the pandemic.

“A handful of faculty decided to leave for greener pasture following the exodus of students who availed of the public schools’ free matriculation,” he said.

Kasilag cited the importance of complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system, saying that private schools must be given more funding support from the government to avoid closure.

“We have been calling for this (additional funding and more subsidies for private schools) for a long time, but nothing happened. So, it’s going to be a waste of effort,” he said.

“If at first, you could not expect anything, then how much more so now? We have surrendered,” he lamented.

Data obtained from the Department of Education’s basic education development plan, which was prepared before the transition to the new administration, showed that around 700 private schools were reported to have permanently closed since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Student exodus

Around 398,000 private school students, he said, have reportedly transferred to public schools, according also to the agency’s basic education development plan.

“So, right now we’re asking for an updated report, if we have a number from the field, how many private schools have closed, and how many students from private schools have transferred to public schools,” DepEd spokesperson, lawyer Michael Poa, told this reporter in a separate interview.

He said they will also ask public schools to help and absorb displaced students.

The Quezon City government, meanwhile, has opened its doors to facilitate all concerns and complaints as part of its assistance to students, parents, teachers, and employees of Colegio de San Lorenzo in Quezon City that announced permanent closure on 15 August, citing financial reasons.

Officials of CDSL and Deped-NCR met on Thursday morning to discuss the transition of displaced students, teachers, and non-teaching staff.

According to RJ Taganas, of the Office of Student Affairs, the CDSL will ensure a smooth and seamless transition especially the refund of tuition, and release of students’ credentials for their transfer to other schools.

Taganas said CDSL has until 20 September to accomplish all deliverables.

He said CDSL is ready to face possible charges over the abrupt announcement of permanent closure.

The Commission on Higher Education earlier said it is looking into the possible violations that CDSL has committed.

Students per classroom

Poa said added that DepEd has reduced the number of students per classroom to ensure a safe return of in-person classes.

“We’re still in a pandemic, so we’re trying to lower the number [of students per classroom],” he said.

Poa, however, said he cannot provide yet the exact figures on the student-teacher ratio because enrolment is still ongoing.

“Before the pandemic, some say that there are almost 80 students per class,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *