SHUTDOWN. The Colegio de San Lorenzo in Barangay Bahay Toro, Quezon City announced its permanent closure on Aug. 15, 2022, surprising its enrollees as it was the opening of the school year. It cited financial instability and lack of financial viability brought about by the pandemic and exacerbated by consistent low enrollment turnout over the past years. (Facebook photo)

MANILA – The education sector is one of the key players in the country’s sustainable development goals.

Thus, it alarmed Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that about 185 private schools nationwide have ceased to operate in recent years, driven mostly by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that resulted in a lower enrollment for Academic Year 2021-2022 -- by 23 percent as compared to the previous years before the global health crisis.

In a news release on Friday, Gatchalian said he has filed Senate Resolution 12 that directs the appropriate committees to conduct an inquiry on strengthening the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the Philippine educational system.

“We need to formulate a dynamic and responsive framework to further operationalize the principle of complementarity between public and private institutions and to establish an integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people,” he said.

Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education, noted the discrepancy in salaries between public and private school teachers, which resulted in the exodus to public schools.

The average monthly public school teacher salary of PHP20,754 in 2019 increased to PHP22,316 in 2020, compared to the average monthly pay of a private school teacher of PHP14,132 at the elementary level, PHP15,048 in junior high school, and PHP16,258 in senior high schools, based on the data of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines.

He likewise wants an update on the challenges in implementing Republic Act 6728, or the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education, which enabled public-private partnership in education through various forms of assistance to students and teachers.

Ang ating mga pribadong paaralan ay ating katuwang sa paghahatid ng dekalidad na edukasyon para sa ating mga kabataan. Dahil patuloy nilang hinaharap ang maraming mga hamon na lumala pa noong panahon ng pandemya, napapanahong pag-aralan natin kung paano sila makakabangon muli (Private schools are our partners in delivering quality education to the youth. They face continuous challenges, made worse by the pandemic. It’s just timely that we help them recover),” Gatchalian said. (PNA)