LIBERAL Party presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II found himself stumped by the issues raised by private school officials during a forum hosted by the Coordinating Council on Private Educational Associations on Thursday.
When asked if he could consider giving private school teachers subsidies to mitigate the shortage of private school teachers, Roxas could only say he was open to the possibility, but there would be technical or legal hurdles to the suggestion.
“It’s hard. What my father taught me is to not say anything when I’m not sure,” said Roxas, the only presidential bet who made it to the forum organized by the federation.
Roxas was responding to a request for government subsidies so that private school teachers would not be tempted to transfer to public schools which now has higher wages.
“Maybe the solution is to let more teachers graduate, right? Because in that way, we could equalize the supply and demand of teachers,” Roxas said.
Cocopea executive director Rene Salvador San Andres lamented that private school institutions could not keep pace with the salaries offered by government schools because of the objections usually made against tuition increases of small private educational institutions.
San Andres said the government should also help small private schools, even in the form of teacher subsidies to equalize the wage distortion between private and public school teachers.
The group said 70 percent of tuition fees collected by private schools goes to teachers salaries, but the government’s only intervention would be in the form of the Teacher’s Salary Subsidy if the school offers the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education or the Educational Service Contracting/Education Voucher System for basic education; or the newly passed United Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education for Higher Education.
“Teachers in the private sector are helpless because the government has a salary standardization law,” San Andres said.
“But when the government has decided to increase the salary [of public school teachers], a lot of our private schools cannot because we only depend on tuition money. And every time we try to reach that, there would be opposition. This is our lifeblood, private education is particularly hit by this,” he added.
“[Private school teachers] have actually sacrificed a lot for the education of our youth, and they have actually have a decision to give a good part of their earning capacity just to give their lives for them. Yet, we hardly recognize that. Please help us also, we do not have the resources,” he said.