865 private schools halt operations this year due to pandemic

The Department of Education (DepEd) reported on Monday, September 14, that a total of 865 private schools are suspending their operations this year due to the pandemic.

Aside from low enrollment turnout, the schools were unable to meet the requirements of learning management systems for the conduct of distance learning this year, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.

Table from DepEd

"The collection is based from field reports. Our deadline for them [was] September 11," Mateo said.

In June, DepEd issued Department Order (DO) 13 which set the "non-negotiable" distance learning requirements for private schools.

Among the "non-negotiable" requirements the DepEd prescribed for private schools are setting up own email domains and educational platforms, hiring help desk personnel whose task is to answer queries, and making sure that students and teachers have the necessary resources to access the lessons. (READ: Private schools to DepEd: Review 'non-negotiable' distance learning requirements)

There were a total of 14,435 private schools in the country that operated last school year.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones attributed the temporary closure of private schools to the lack of enrollees when students – whose parents' income have been affected by the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic – started transferring to public schools.

Aside from this, Briones also said that teachers have also transferred to public schools due to higher compensation benefits.

In a Rappler talk interview in July, Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) managing director Joseph Noel Estrada raised concerns about the "alarmingly low" turnout of enrollees for this year.

DepEd has allowed private schools to open classes before October 5, provided they use the distance learning approach. (READ: DepEd: Private schools can start classes before October 5 using distance learning)

As of Monday, September 14, a total of 2,080,680 private school students have registered for classes this year. The figure, however, is just 47% of 2019's 4.4 million enrollees in private institutions. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.