Stakeholders' views mixed on proposed private education bureau

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20)—Stakeholders' views on Monday were mixed on the creation of a bureau under the Department of Education (DepEd) to handle private school matters.

During a basic education committee meeting at the House of Representatives, the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) said existing offices of the DepEd perform the functions of the proposed bureau.

These are the Private Education Office (PEO) and Government Assistance and Subsidies Office (GASO).

"This (proposed bureau) may be construed as over regulation perhaps with regards to the private education institutions," COCOPEA spokesperson KC Manaog said.

The DepEd said PEO and GASO were only created only through a department order, and these are currently understaffed.

"Marami tayong naririnig na violations na hindi na natin namo-monitor dahil sa kaunti ng tao and contract of service lang po sila," DepEd GASO head Tara Rama said.

[Translation: We have heard so many violations that we haven’t been able to monitor because we are understaffed and they are also just under a contract service.]

On the other hand, the Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators (FAPSA) supported a private education bureau to streamline processes for private schools.

"When we go to DepEd, palagi ang tanong namin saan po lalapit, sino ang kakausapin namin? [We always ask them who we should reach out to, who will we call?] Now, with the clear intent for the creation, there is now a focal office that we can run to and ask for assistance," FAPSA legal and research committee head Petromilo Alarcon Jr. said.

A student group also backed a private education bureau.

The Student First Coalition said the creation of the bureau should be tackled as a separate measure.

The committee is considering consolidating bills that propose the creation of the bureau to proposed measures on the expansion of the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE).

"The mandate goes beyond GASTPE and this will allow the decision making body to flesh out the bureau's functions," Student First Coalition member Patricia Langitan said.

The committee directed the stakeholders to submit a position paper on the matter.

It then approved the proposed creation of a private education bureau, noting that certain issues will have to be discussed further.