A total of 150 private school teachers and non-teaching personnel from the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring areas on Friday (August 27, 2021) received P10,000 in cash aid each under former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies’ Sampung Libong Pag-Asa program.
The beneficiaries came from 34 private K-12 schools and colleges from different areas of Manila, Mandaluyong, Zamboanga, Cavite, Muntinlupa, Laguna, Caloocan, Quezon City, and Bataan.
Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano said private schools continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic as much as the other sectors in the country.
“Bakit kailangang tulungan ang mga teachers sa private schools? Kasi mayroong impression na kapag private school ay may pera sila (Why should we help teachers working for private schools? Because there is a common misconception that anyone associated with a private school is wealthy),” she said.
“Sa kabaligtaran, marami pong private schools ngayon ang nagsasara o nagbabawas sila ng teachers or personnel,” she added.
(But in reality, a lot of private schools are now closing down or are laying off teachers or personnel.)
According to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (Cocopea), only 201,147 students have enrolled in private schools as of August 25, 95% lower than the 4.4 million before the pandemic.
At least 865 of the private schools all over the country have closed down due to low enrollment since the pandemic started.
Private school teachers and staff are either laid off due to cost-cutting of private schools or are receiving reduced pay.
Hope in Sampung Libong Pag-asa
Some teachers, on the other hand, decided to leave on their own because of difficulty with the distance learning setup, according to Dr. Azucena Inalisan, principal of St. Anthony School in Manila.
Inalisan said although the institution is surviving, they are continually experiencing losses not only financially but also in terms of their personnel and students.
“With the emergence of COVID, it has affected us in terms of the decline of enrollment even though we have already adjusted the tuition and made it more affordable. Still, about 300 of our students have not enrolled since last year,” she said.
Inalisan also expressed concern over the non-teaching personnel of St. Anthony. Since there are no students on-campus, some jobs like janitorial services have become almost irrelevant.
“The non-teaching personnel are really the ones affected. They’ve [referring to janitors specifically] availed of early retirement…but again, the retirement that they have received is not enough to give them a decent life,” she added.
This is why the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program was a blessing, Inalisan said.
She expressed her gratitude to Cayetano and the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program, because of the renewed hope it gave to teaching and non-teaching personnel alike during a time of crisis.
“Sa panahon ng pandemya, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Lahat ng umpisa may katapusan, at ang pandemyang ito ay matatapos din by God’s grace. Tumapang kami. Ang paaralang San Antonio ay lumalaban at patuloy kaming lalaban,” she said.
(Even in the midst of a pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel. All things will pass just like this pandemic, by God’s grace. We became stronger. St. Anthony’s School is and will continue fighting).
The former Speaker said helping private schools stay afloat and their personnel keep their jobs is important so that the country’s youth will not get left behind by the rest of the region in terms of education.
“Pag-aralan po natin kung paano tayo makakatulong sa teachers, sa faculty, sa non-teaching, at sa mga may-ari ng private schools,” he said.
(Let’s study how we can help our teachers, faculty members, non-teaching personnel, and owners of private schools)
Cayetano also encouraged the public to exercise bayanihan in whatever way they can.
“Mga kababayan, mga kapatid, whether it’s a smile, it’s a hug. It’s volunteering your time, whether naghahatid-sundo ka, nagbabayanihan, — [ibigay natin] kung anuman ang maitutulong sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.
(My fellow countrymen, my brothers and sisters, let’s offer whatever we can to our fellow Filipinos, whether it be a smile, a hug, It’s about volunteering your time in any way to help our fellow Filipinos.)