The government and the private sector each have their strong suits; each has its weaknesses, too (market imperfections and government failures).
Appropriately combined and used, public and private education can lead to better results than what either working separately can achieve.
Unfortunately, the details of this collaboration are different in various contexts.
In the Philippines, some laws recognize the importance of the private sector, including education, but many challenges remain in developing the private sector to its optimal size and effectiveness.
The figure below shows the share of private enrollment in basic education.
Enrolment in private schools has been steadily declining over the past few decades and has only rebounded starting in 2016 when Senior High School (SHS) was introduced, and the government relied heavily on the private sector’s capacity to implement the program.
Without SHS, the share of private enrollment would shrink by a third, leading to more school closures and unemployment of both teaching and non-teaching personnel.
Figure 1: Share of Private Schools Enrollment in Basic Education, SY 2019-2020
A large discrepancy in teacher salaries between public and private schools is a major issue. This disparity leads to a constant exodus of teachers to public schools. The basic salary of an entry-level teacher in 2020 is PhP 393,459.04 per year.
On average, private school teachers in comparable positions only earn 60% of this amount. The regional discrepancies are more alarming in Region X.
On average, private school teachers only earn 31% of what their public counterparts earn. The discrepancy is the smallest in NCR, and the corresponding figure is just 87%.
The GASTPE Law has provided the legal basis for public sector support to private schools, which had been a significant benefit for private schools.
However, the levels of support could still be improved in terms of amount and frequency of review.
For example, the SHS Voucher Program amounts have not changed since 2016, but schools have continuously invested in providing students with the best possible facilities.
Even minimal adjustments due to inflation have not been implemented, increasing the strain on private schools’ financial viability and the program itself.
Aside from these major challenges, there are many small issues that, if solved, could significantly help private schools.
These include: (a) lack of coordination in SHS program offerings, leading to unnecessary competition for students in many locations, (b) lack of policy for DepEd’s acceptance of transferees from private schools that still have unpaid fees, and (c) unavailability of contingent support to private schools for extraordinary circumstances like COVID-19, which include (1) broader access to the Teacher Salary Subsidy and (2) maximization of the ESC and VP allocation of the schools that have temporarily closed, among others.
These minor tweaks might almost be imperceptible to DepEd but will be a lifeline for private schools, especially during difficult times.