education in the Philippines

DepEd to revive private schools bureau

Mark Carlota
DepEd to revive private schools bureau
Education Secretary Leonor Briones stresses the importance of creating the new office for private schools, saying small private schools have been greatly affected by the pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to help struggling private schools during the pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) is working to create a Private Education Office (PEO) similar to the Bureau of Private Education that was scrapped in the making of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

“Dati, mayroon tayong bureau, full bureau talaga na ‘yun ang tumitingin sa sitwasyon ng private schools. Through the years, medyo nawala ‘yun o na-phase out, pero gusto natin ‘yun ibalik kasi mahalaga ang kontribusyon ng private schools sa edukasyon. Mag-create talaga tayo ng separate office to attend to the needs of private schools,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a press briefing on Friday, March 11.

(Before, we had a bureau, a full bureau that oversaw the situation of the private schools. Through the years, it somehow got dissolved or phased out, but we want to bring it back because private schools have an important contribution to our education sector. We really need to create a separate office to attend to the needs of private schools.)

At the press briefing, Briones stressed the need for a separate office. She highlighted the current plight of private education institutions, especially the small private schools. (READ: Private schools say low enrollment for school year 2021-2022 ‘a major concern’)

“At the height of the pandemic, alam naman ninyo na maraming private schools ang nagsara. Ito ay ’yung maliliit na private schools na hindi makayanan ang financial losses dahil bumaba ang enrollment. Ang pagbaba ng enrollment natin, ang kabuuan in terms of numbers of learners, doon talaga natamaan nang husto ang private schools na maliliit,” she explained. 

(Everyone knows that a lot of private schools closed down at the height of the pandemic. These are the small private schools that could not take the financial losses due to the drop in enrollment. The decrease in our enrollment, in terms of numbers of learners as a whole, that’s where the small private schools were affected the most.)

Long overdue?

Briones, however, said the problems faced by the private schools have been around even before the pandemic.

DepEd to revive private schools bureau

“Ang una naming napansin ay ang migration ng teachers. Even before the pandemic, nag-umpisa nang mag-migrate ang teachers from the small private schools [to public schools]. We already knew that that was going to be a challenge. So tinitingnan natin ito kung paano tayo maka’bigay ng advice at tulong, lalo na sa small private schools.”

(The first thing we noticed was the migration of teachers. Even before the pandemic, the teachers from small private schools have already begun migrating to public schools. We already knew that that was going to be a challenge. So, we’re looking at how we can give advice and help especially to the small private schools.)

This was not the first time that the idea of a PEO was explored. In 2014, Quezon Representative Angelina Tan filed House Bill 4813, which sought the establishment of a similar office under DepEd.

The PEO was finally realized after DepEd released a department order announcing its creation dated March 8. 

Briones hopes for the new office to be one of the department’s “legacy projects” that could withstand a possible change in leadership in light of the upcoming May 2022 elections. – 

Mark Carlota, a Rappler intern, is a first year Political Science major from Ateneo de Manila University. This article was reviewed by a Rappler reporter and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.

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