• ‘Education needs to shun opportunist politicians’

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    THE Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) demanded that the education sector should be made free from political meddling, stressing that direct government interferences on private education system will strangle the economic gains of some private schools.

    “We [from the private education sectors]all share the perspective that education needs to be isolated from political activities especially short-term political gains,” Dr. Patricia Bustos-Lagunda, Cocopea president, told The Manila Times in an earlier interview.

    Bustos-Lagunda said that, more importantly, a level playing field must be established following norms and standards that both private and public education providers have to meet.

    “Both public and private schools need government support but one that does not impinge on the institution’s autonomy in decision making-decisions contingent to achieving quality levels needed by their programs and in assuring sustainability of the institution itself,” she added.

    Bustos-Lagunda, also the president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), said private schools are dying out because of the establishment of more local colleges as majority of the Filipino students still preferred to enrol in the public schools.

    “Many local politicians right now have their own school [locally-funded colleges and universities],” she said.

    The Cocopea president also appealed to local colleges and universities not to offer the same programs with them.

    “They also [local colleges]replicate our programs. We appeal to them not to offer programs that are already offered by the private education sectors. Please do not compete with us,” Bustos-Lagunda said.

    Private education needs to be spared from the politics of tuition, Bustos-Lagunda said.

    “This is exactly why there is the presence of public provision, and free market choice in private education,” she said.

    “When it comes to private education, the only source of funds that we have is tuition fees. Private schools will not survive without the school fees. It’s a matter of market. There’s an impression that private education is just a profit-oriented, no it’s not! We do a lot of public service too in terms of granting scholarships,” she added.

    Neil A. Alcober

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