DepEd urges private schools to defer tuition hike

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday, June 25, urged private schools to defer an increase in tuition and other fees for this coming school year, citing the financial difficulties of families and students due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Department of Education (DepEd) appeals to private educational institutions in basic education to defer increases in tuition and other miscellaneous fees or charges for School Year 2020-2021 in view of the financial constraints that parents and learners are expected to face due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation," DepEd said in a statement.

DepEd said that while it recognized the needs of private schools to ensure that they give quality education, this "must be balanced with the accessibility of these services to learners, particularly those whose families are experiencing financial difficulties brought by the imposition of necessary COVID-19 management measures."

The DepEd also called for transparency in the structure of tuition fee and other charges after receiving reports that fee increases were “not consistent" with  distance learning.

"We understand that there are new expenses that come with distance learning, but there are also diminished expenses in light of the major change in learning delivery modality," DepEd said. 

On June 10, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said tuition fee increases in private schools should be approved by DepEd's regional directors, and should be "justified." (READ: Tuition fee hike in private schools should be justified – DepEd)

Consultation 

The DepEd also said that it will meet with major private school associations next week to discuss their concerns regarding Department Order No. 13, which set its "non-negotiable" distance learning requirements.

The consultation will be held with major private school associations, including the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), and the Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators (FAPSA).

DepEd made the announcement a day after Cocopea urged the department to review its "non-negotiable" requirements on distance learning which, the group said, were finalized without any public consultation.

DepEd also reiterated on Thursday that there will be no "face-to-face" classes for this year "until determined to be safe by the DOH (Department of Health), IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force), and the President."

As of Thursday, DepEd said that over 14 million public and private schools students have signed up for the opening of classes.

The initial enrolees, however, are just a little over half of last year's 27.7 million students.

Enrollment in basic education for school year 2020-2021 is being done remotely through phone, online platforms, and a "drop box system of enrollment," and will last until June 30. (READ: Remote enrollment in basic education will be implemented during pandemic) – Rappler.com 

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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