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Gatchalian urges subsidies for private schools amid pandemic

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday urged the government to provide subsidies for private schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, warned that neglecting private schools may lead to the overcrowding of public schools and unemployment of private school teachers and staff.

He also cited a study by the Department of Finance and the National Economic Development Authority which found that the education sector has the second-highest number of job losses with 130,514 since the enhanced community quarantine was implemented.

The education sector also averaged revenue losses of up to 76.8 percent.

"One of the action plans that we are employing is to lobby very hard to include private schools in the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) of government, and expanding other mechanisms, for example the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE)," he said in a statement.

The SBWS measure grants P5,000 to P8,000 to qualified workers.

The GASTPE Act, meanwhile, provides financial assistance to learners and teachers to decongest public schools.

“Malaki ang naging epekto ng COVID-19 sa mga pribadong paaralan, pati na sa mga guro at kawani nito pero hindi pa rin sila kwalipikado sa mga ayudang ipinapamahagi ng pamahalaan,” Gatchalian said.

“Bilang mga katuwang natin sa pagbibigay ng dekalidad na edukasyon, kailangang tulungan natin ang mga pribadong paaralan na makatawid sa krisis na kinakaharap natin,” he added.

Private schools cater to around four million of the country’s 27 million students in basic education, according to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA).

COCOPEA earlier warned that up to 50 percent or two million of these students might drop out or move to public schools. — DVM, GMA News