THE Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), one of the country’s largest umbrella organizations of private schools, has asked the national government to provide more financial assistance to the country’s private school system as some schools are on the brink of closure due to revenue losses.
Newly-installed Cocopea Chairman Br. Narciso “Jun” Erguiza, made the appeal as he delivered his inaugural address during the turnover ceremony of Cocopea chairmanship on Friday night at Oakwood Premier in Pasig City.
This year’s chairmanship was transferred from the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP).
Erguiza, who is also the president of CEAP and De La Salle Araneta University in Malabon City, noted that the government should put its resources where its mouth is, stressing that it is the government’s job to provide education to its citizens whether it is public or private schools.
“What we are saying is basically the government is not doing anything to financially support the running of the country’s [private]schools,” Erguiza said. “Virtually nothing comes from the government. Private schools pay for themselves.”
“I think the government, in an ideal situation, is the one that pays the teachers in much the same way that it pays the teachers in the public sector so that the private schools do not have to charge at much tuition to their students because our resources and finances in the private schools come from tuition fees,” he said.
He cited Section 125 of the Commission on Higher Education’s Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education, which states that “it is the policy of the State that the national government shall contribute to the financial support of higher education programs pursuant to the goals of education declared in the Constitution. Towards this end, the government shall adopt measures to broaden access to education through financial assistance and other forms of incentives to schools, teachers, and encourage and stimulate private support to education through, among others, fiscal and other assistance measures.”
Erguiza, however, challenged his colleagues from Cocopea not to beg the government for financial support.
“Let us demand from them what they owe the private education sector,” he said.
Erguiza said private schools under the Cocopea fully support the government’s flagship Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program but asked the government to address its possible impact once it is rolled out in 2016.
Under the K-to-12 program, a student will be required to undergo kindergarten, six years of primary education (Grades 1-6), four years of junior high school (Grades 7-10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11-12).
The new education system aims to improve the quality of basic education and adequately prepare high school graduates for college education, work or employment, making them globally competitive.
“We are now at the advent of the actual and full implementation of this significant systemic change, which is the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013. I recognize the anxieties, the headaches and the heartaches this reform has brought on us: the potential displacement of tertiary faculty and staff, the possible closure of higher education institutions due to revenue losses, among others,” he said.
“Time and again, our ears have not been bereft of calls for its delay. Yet, the transition to the K-to-12 system of education, like any other forms of transition in life, cannot be free from any form of disruption and confusion. It would be foolish to demand a foolproof game plan for the transition. The K-12 Act is meant to disrupt the current education system to ensure that the children of today would have a globally competitive, quality-assured form of education. We have to make this happen. Our nation, our people cannot afford to delay this any further,” the Cocopea chair added.
Cocopea is composed of five members: 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 Technical-Vocational Schools Associations of the Philippines.