Private schools in the Philippines, including those run by Catholic religious institutions, will start online classes ahead of the government schools.
The Department of Education gave the approval to the private schools even as it moved the official opening of classes in the country from August 24 to October 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an advisory, the Education department clarified that private schools “are allowed to proceed provided they are strictly using only distance learning modalities and that there are no face-to-face classes.”
Schools that have already started or are about to resume classes before October 5 are required to submit “relevant documents” to the Education department.
The decision was made after Catholic and private schools petitioned against another postponement of the opening of classes.
In a letter addressed to the Education department, Father Elmer Dizon, president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, said another delay on the school opening “would entail enormous losses” that the schools can no longer afford.
The priest admitted that some member schools have already closed “due to very low enrollment and owing to the financial difficulties they are facing.”
“To delay the opening of classes for six more weeks would entail severe financial losses on their part, given that the enrollment statistics are not picking up for most of these schools,” said Father Dizon.
The priest assured that the Catholic schools support the government’s efforts in ensuring the safety of students, parents, and teachers.
He said that the “mandate to deliver quality private Catholic education becomes more challenging when we are navigating on very confusing waters.”
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Association said the private education sector “is ready for school opening.”
In a statement, the group said private schools have “sought different innovative approaches to support learners’ education continuity” amid the pandemic.
The association said it is offering online and distance education resources, including its teachers to the government.
The group said it will help the public school system in the delivery of education to young people “through the use of student vouchers or subsidies.”
“We have available student slots of up to 60 percent of our capacity, or up to 3 million students,” read the group’s statement.
The group said the proposal “will help hasten the readiness of the public school system” and at the same time, help private schools in sustaining their operations.
As of August 14, about 23.3 million students have already enrolled in public and private schools, according to the Education department.
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