HomeNews‘New normal’ poses challenges to Philippine Catholic schools, says bishop

‘New normal’ poses challenges to Philippine Catholic schools, says bishop

"There are so many things to take into consideration … thus we have to adapt really to the new normal," said Bishop Roberto Mallari

The coronavirus pandemic is posing a lot of challenges to Catholic schools in the Philippines as seen in the impending closure of the more-than-a-hundred-year-old College of the Holy Spirit Manila.

“It is not easy to run a school during the pandemic,” said Bishop Roberto Mallari, head of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education of the bishops’ conference.

He said he respects the decision of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit to close their school in Manila due to the diminishing number of students during the pandemic.

“There are so many things to take into consideration … thus we have to adapt really to the new normal,” said the prelate.




He said he wants to appreciate “those who dared to accept the challenge to face the situation and tried to open the school year 2020-2021.”

“I know that this school year is a special year for school administrators, teachers, and students because it will bring with it very important, essential, and strong teachings,” said Bishop Mallari.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said the decision to close the College of the Holy Spirit Manila “has been (done) after much deliberation, consultation, and prayer.”

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In a statement on November 22, the school announced that it will voluntarily cease operations at the end of Academic Year 2021-2022.

Other schools under the supervision of the Holy Spirit Sisters will, however, continue to operate.

In a separate letter addressed to stakeholders on October 28, the religious congregation said the challenges facing the school and the wider education sector in the past ten years have become increasingly complex, making it difficult for the school to attract new students.

The nuns said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has also “exacerbated” the situation.

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines has earlier admitted that most schools “struggle in terms of financial survival” due the pandemic.

Father Nolan Que, a member of the board of trustees of the organization, said there were a lot of “unsettled tuition” in the past school year, resulting in lack of funds.

“It is now high time to be real witnesses to them,” said Father Que.

Even Catholic seminaries in the Philippines are facing the same financial challenges due to the pandemic.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said 43 percent of seminarians who studied in the diocese failed to pay the full tuition during the last school year.

Seminary administrators have expressed worry that due to the financial deficit they might not be able to pay the salaries of the staff.

An organization of private schools has sought assistance from the government, particularly on behalf of school personnel and students, amid the pandemic.

In a statement, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations said the private education sector “is one of the sectors seriously affected” by the lockdown.

The group said it welcomes “any government support in any form” to students, parents, and schools across education programs.

About 263,000 teachers are employed in private basic education schools and 77,000 work as faculty in private colleges and universities nationwide.

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