DepEd turns to private schools to decongest classrooms

Posted at 06/26/2010 5:27 PM | Updated as of 06/26/2010 5:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking into partnering with private schools to help decongest public school classrooms while additional classrooms are being constructed or repaired.

This was announced by Education Secretary Mona Valisno.

“We want all school-aged children to be in school and this increases class size prompting us to do classes in shifts.  We are finding other cost effective ways to reduce the volume of students in classrooms,” said Valisno.

There is an estimated shortage of 61,343 classrooms for school year 2010-2011, according to the Alliance for Concerned Teachers. (See story here.)

One such option that the DepEd is studying in order to solve the problem is to transfer some public school students to private schools.

“We will talk to private school owners to arrange for reasonable fees if we transfer some students in their schools,” Valisno narrated. “This is one way to reduce classroom-student ratio in public schools, particularly those in highly urbanized areas where available land for construction is limited.”

DepEd is also studying the possibility of putting selected public school students in private schools on scholarship. Financial support may come from the expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) or another scheme of financial support, according to Valisno.

The GASTPE program subsidizes the high school education of public elementary school graduates in private schools. Tuition subsidy is P10,000 per student in Metro Manila, and P5,000 per student in other areas.

There are currently 720,000 beneficiaries of the GASTPE program, according to DepEd. To reach the target of 1 million beneficiaries in 2011, a P6 billion budget is needed.

Valisno said other means may also be explored, such as donations. “We can look into an option where the tuition of the scholar will be considered as a donation by the private school under the Adopt-a-School Program. Through this scheme, the school can avail of tax incentives equivalent to 150% of the value of the scholarship.”

The education secretary said DepEd is committed to seeing to it that “every Filipino child is assured of the opportunity to get high quality education that will make him or her a whole person, a responsible citizen, and lead him or her to a successful entrepreneurial venture.”

In line with this vision, and in spite of the shortage of public school classrooms, Valisno directed education officials to accommodate all children of school age in the more than 45,000 public schools nationwide. This includes out-of-school youths who are determined to pursue formal education.