The Department of Education (DepEd) is mulling over entering into more service contracting schemes with private schools to absorb more than a third of the expected one million students who will be entering senior high school in 2016.
The two years of senior high school—Grades 11 and 12—that will be added to the 10-year basic education curriculum will be implemented nationwide beginning June 2016.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they estimated that about a million students in the public schools would be graduating from Grade 10 or 4th year high school in March 2016.
“If all of them will go on to the public schools (for Grade 11), we need to build classrooms for one million students,” Luistro said.
By 2017, the public school system will again have to find a way to accommodate the same number students—about one million—for Grade 12.
“We have to compute the additional teachers and classrooms needed based on this number,” Luistro said.
The education secretary said that accommodating these students in private schools would be less costly than building new classrooms and facilities, procuring furniture and hiring more teachers.
The DepEd currently subsidizes the tuition of about 700,000 students in private high schools under the education service contracting scheme (ESC).
The ESC is a program under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) for students who could not be accommodated in public high schools and are therefore enrolled in private schools with a government subsidy.
The current annual subsidy is P10,000 per student in private schools in Metro Manila and P6,500 per student in participating schools outside Metro Manila.
“We’ll be happier if we have to build fewer classrooms. The government will be able to save more by giving subsidies instead,” Luistro said, explaining that the cost of keeping a student in the public school system is P14,000 a year.
He said that two months ago, they estimated that private schools may be able to absorb about 30 percent, or 300,000, of the incoming one million Grade 11 students.
“I wish the figure in the private schools will increase to 60:40 (60 percent for public schools and 40 percent for private schools),” Luistro said.
Meanwhile, the DepEd on Monday led the annual nationwide school cleanup effort “Brigada Eskwela” at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay City.
The voluntary community effort brings together teachers, parents and various government and private groups and individuals who spruce up the public schools two weeks before the start of classes.
Public elementary and high schools will open on June 3 while many private schools are scheduled to open a week later.
“The brigada is the longest manifestation of people power in the Philippines,” Luistro said, describing how volunteers put in the time to paint classrooms, repair furniture and facilities, and clean up school grounds.
Luistro said the materials and supplies used are donated by the parents or by private businesses and foundations.