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Private schools group wants more from next President

By: - Reporter / @erikaINQ
/ 05:59 AM February 20, 2016

An organization of private schools is asking the country’s next President to extend some assistance to its members, especially small parish-based institutions, in recognition of their role in nation-building.

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), which counts 2,500 member schools nationwide, said it would back the presidential candidate who would support its five-year roadmap.

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Cocopea also called for more public-private partnership projects (PPPs) involving private schools, equality of compensation between public and private school teachers of similar disciplines, equity in the distribution of state-funded scholarships, and more funding for higher educational institutions.

“This would entail a change of mindset. The basic principle is that government is supposed to take care of educating its citizens. The private sector deserves to be given the same kind of assistance given to the public sector. We will ask that this be a priority of the next President,” Cocopea chair Bro. Narciso Erguiza Jr. said in a press briefing in Quezon City on Thursday.

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“Our financial source is coming from students and parents who are already paying taxes for education. So they’re not getting their due and they’re paying double because the government is not giving a share to the private sector,” said Erguiza, president of De La Salle Araneta University.

For missionary schools

The group’s executive director, Rene Salvador San Andres, said Cocopea was calling for government subsidy for the benefit of small missionary schools that cannot cope with the expenses.

“One prominent example in previous discussions was the planned increase in the minimum salary of teachers. If the salary is raised to P18,000 and the nuns [running a school] could only afford P10,000, where will they get the P8,000?” San Andres said.

According to a target set by the Commission on Higher Education, 50 percent of teachers in tertiary schools should have a postgraduate degree. But when the deadline passed, the number was short by 20 percent, the Cocopea official said.

He thus cited scholarships for teachers as another form of government assistance.

San Andres, an assistant to the vice president for the Loyola Schools for Formation of the Ateneo de Manila University, said financially challenged students should have the option to enroll in private schools through government funded scholarships.

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He noted that when Republic Act No. 10687, or Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) was approved, the private sector was excluded in the crafting of its implementing rules and regulation.

“Private educational institutions are major deliverers of higher education, and yet we are not considered stakeholders. We should be included in the body that would implement UniFAST,” he stressed.

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TAGS: Bro. Narciso Erguiza Jr., Cocopea, Coordination Council of Private Educational Associations, Nation Building, private schools
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