In Western Visayas, 76 schools stop operations
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — A total of 76 private schools in Western Visayas have stopped their operations this school year due to financial problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, education officials in the region said.
Of these schools, 17 had closed permanently, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
Hernani Escullar, information officer of DepEd Western Visayas, said most of these schools catered to kindergarten and grade school pupils, while some had junior and senior high school students.
“The most common reason that was stated on the intention of these private schools, especially those requesting to have a temporary closure for this school year, is the low enrollment turnout…,” he said in a television interview on Tuesday.
“The other [reason] is financial constraints or [unstable] operation that is somehow affected by the COVID-19 pandemic … Same [reasons] for the schools that intend to close permanently,” he added.
Records showed that 31 of the schools that would not operate for school year 2022-2023 were from Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, the province’s capital.
Ian Arnold Arnaez, spokesperson for DepEd Negros Occidental, said small private schools had been struggling to keep afloat since the start of the pandemic in 2020, when health and mobility restrictions were imposed by the government.
“These schools had small numbers of enrollees and had relied mostly on tuition and other fees to pay [the salaries of] their teachers and survive,” he said.
Arnaez said some parents paid tuition on credit, which made operations more difficult for the schools.
“Most of the students enrolled in those schools are from middle-income families who also suffered during the pandemic,” he said.
Many of the parents, Arnaez said, decided to transfer their children to public schools, where tuition is free.
“Most of the schools that closed were really small schools whose survival depended on [the regular payment of] tuition,” he said.
Earlier, 10 private schools in Iloilo province also stopped operations due to low enrollment and financial problems, according to DepEd.
Officials said while there were enrollees for this school year, they were not enough to sustain operations.
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