THE Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), one of the country’s largest umbrella organizations of private schools, has assured that the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program, which adds two more years to basic education, will be embraced by the entire private-school community, as the government will begin the full implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) program on June 2016.
“It [K-to-12 program] is challenged in all forms and confronted with resistance from all sides. Cocopea is very much up to the challenge and committed to making sure that this reform is embraced entirely and whole-heartedly,” Cocopea chairman Narciso Erguiza said during the association’s recent 6th national congress.
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.
“We are confronting the rapid structural changes happening in the education [sector]brought about by the preparations for the full implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013,” Erguiza said.
“It [K-to-12 program] is for the good of our people, especially the young, and future generations of our nation,” he added.
During the congress, the private-education sector discussed major issues in the education sector, complementarity between private academic institutions and the government, and engaged the commitment of key education stakeholders and presidential candidates to education.
As an organization of private schools, colleges and universities, Cocopea speaks with one voice on many issues, Erguiza said.
He added that these issues include academic freedom, quality of education, research as a major driver of development, healthy sub-governance and complementarity between public and private education.
“The role of private education, needless to say, is vital to the development of our nation… we [must]put forward education as the most important driver to human development, societal transformation and economic progress,” Erguiza said.
He added,, “We are at the last leg of the successful implementation of the K-to-12 [program], the first substantial reform in a long time. [However], any reform does not come easy.”
Education Secretary Armin Luistro told private education institutions that they must continue to help the Department of Education (DepEd) in initiating reforms that will make education even more accessible to all.
“Cocopea can continue to work on new laws [that]can be crafted so that the government’s [partnership with private schools], apart from what is currently being provided, which is purely just the Education Service Contracting (ESC) Program, can be expanded,” Luistro said.
Under the ESC program, the government shoulders tuition and other fees of high school students who enrol in private high schools.
The Senior High School program will be fully implemented starting this coming school year 2016-2017.
NEIL A. ALCOBER