Private schools take up challenge, vow to embrace K to 12

March 4, 2016

During the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) 6th National Congress last February 18, COCOPEA Chairperson Br. Jun S. Erguiza FSC Ph.D. said that COCOPEA will see to it that the K to 12 Program will be “embraced entirely and whole-heartedly.”
“It (K to 12 Program) is challenged in all forms and confronted with resistance from all sides. COCOPEA is very much up to the challenge and committed to making sure that this reform is embraced entirely and whole-heartedly,” Erguiza said.
COCOPEA is made up of private education institutions in the Philippines with more than 2,500 member institutions. It also includes five educational associations: Association of Christian Schools, Colleges, and Universities; Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines; Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities; Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges, and Universities; and the Technical-Vocational School Associations of the Philippines.
Erguiza added, “We are confronting the rapid structural changes happening in the education [sector] brought about by the preparations for the full implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.”
According to Erguiza, “It (K to 12 Program) is for the good of our people, especially the young, and future generations of our nation.”
Last February 18, private academic institutions gathered at Novotel Araneta Center in Quezon City for COCOPEA’s 6th National Congress.
The Congress discussed major issues in the education sector, complementarity between private academic institutions and the government, and engaged the commitment of key education stakeholders and presidential candidates in education.
As an organization of private schools, colleges, and universities, COCOPEA speaks with one voice on many issues, Erguiza said. He added that these issues include academic freedom, quality of education, research as a major driver of development, healthy sub-governance, and complementarity between public and private education.
“The role of private education, needless to say, is vital to the development of our nation... we [must] put forward education as the most important driver to human development, societal transformation, and economic progress,” Erguiza said.
Erguiza pressed that, “We are at the last leg of the successful implementation of the K to 12 [Program]—the first substantial reform in a long time. [However], any reform does not come easy.”
For his part, Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC told private education institutions that they must continue to help the Department of Education (DepEd) in initiating reforms that will make education even more accessible to all.
“COCOPEA can continue to work on new laws [that] can be crafted so that the government’s [partnership with private schools], apart from what is currently being provided—which is purely just the Education Service Contracting (ESC) Program—can be expanded,” Luistro said.
Under ESC Program, the government shoulders the tuition and other fees of high school students who enroll in private high schools.
Luistro added that, “What we need to balance here is co-responsibility [between the government and private education institutions].”
Addressing this year’s COCOPEA National Congress, Luistro also said that with the help of private schools, more financially challenged learners can enroll in private schools.
According to Luistro, the percentage of private school students who are receiving government subsidy has jumped from 50 percent (%) to nearly 70%.
Because of this and with the advent of Senior High School (SHS) this coming School Year (SY) 2016-2017, “[Those] who will not have a form of government subsidy will be very small,” Luistro said.
Starting SY 2016-2017, the SHS Voucher Program seeks to subsidize a partial amount of public and private Grade 10 completers’ tuition fees in non-DepEd public and private schools licensed to offer SHS Program.
Grade 10 completers from public Junior High School, State Universities and Colleges and Local Universities and Colleges, and Grade 10 completers who are ESC grantees from private schools are already automatically qualified for the voucher program. Only non-ESC students need to apply for the voucher program.
With the remaining little number of students who are in private schools without any form of government subsidy, Luistro suggested that it would require minimum financing to cover all students completely.
“If the next administration chooses to do universal subsidy for all Filipino students, the math of the budget required for that will be very insignificant,” Luistro said.