Over 400,000 private school employees affected by lockdown – group

Bonz Magsambol

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Over 400,000 private school employees affected by lockdown – group
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations says that if classes don't resume by August, several schools will be on the verge of closing down due to losses

MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus pandemic is not only reshaping the education system in the Philippines but also affecting the livelihood of the country’s teaching workforce. 

A total of 409,757 teachers, faculty, and school personnel in private educational institutions nationwide are currently affected by the enhanced community quarantine, according to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea).

“They are either receiving reduced pay now or they are no longer being paid at all due to ‘no work no pay’ scheme,” Cocopea managing director Joseph Noel Estrada told Rappler on Monday, April 27. 

The government earlier decided to extend the lockdown in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon to May 15. Outside Luzon, lockdowns have also been implemented in Cebu province, including Cebu City, Antique, Iloilo, Davao del Norte, and Davao City, until May 15. 

Estrada said that most of the private schools in the country can only sustain their payroll until April. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Education in the time of coronavirus)

“‘Yung iba gusto magbayad pero hindi makabayad [ng tuition fee] dahil naka-lockdown. Majority din talaga kasi hirap na ang mga magulang dahil ‘yung iba walang trabaho at walang negosyo,” Estrada said. 

(Others wanted to pay the tuition fee but could not do so because of the lockdown. Majority of the parents were not able to pay becuse some of them have lost their livelihood and businesses.)

Schools on the verge of shutdown

Estrada said that if classes don’t resume by August, several schools will be on the verge of closing down due to losses.  

“The revenue loss for the private education sector if school opening is pushed to August is already estimated at P55.2 billion. Imagine if we don’t allow schools to open by then, many teachers will lost their jobs,” Estrada said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

On Friday, April 24, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the government taskforce on coronavirus to move the class opening for school year 2020-2021 to September. 

“Lahat ng eskuwelahan i-consider po ang late opening sa Setyembre, except po sa online learning,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. (All schools should consider opening classes late, in September, except for online learning.)

The Department of Education (DepEd), however, said that it is still eyeing August as class opening for the next school year. 

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan earlier said that the opening of school year 2020-2021 “does not necessarily mean that students will be coming to school.”

The DepEd is also considering information communication technology (ICT) platforms, television, and radio in delivering lessons during the coronavirus crisis

Meanwhile, Estrada said that even if the government decides to open the classes by September, private schools have the autonomy to open the school year earlier. (READ: Duterte approves IATF recommendation to reopen schools in September)

“But of course that does not mean face-to-face. We will use blended learning approach and observe health protocols,” Estrada said. 

According to Republic Act No. 7977, also known as “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) days to not more that Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days,” the school year “shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”

The DepEd is expected to present its recommendations and education policies to the government taskforce by the first week of May. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.