Over 70 private schools in Western Visayas have shut down as the new school year began this week, data released by the Department of Education’s (DepEd) regional office on Saturday revealed.
In an ABS-CBN report, regional DepEd authorities said a low number of enrollees and financial constraints were among the factors for the closures.
Seventeen of the 76 schools closed permanently while 59 shut temporarily, Hernani Escullar, Regional Information Officer of DepEd Eastern Visayas said.
Ten private schools closed shop in Iloilo province, followed by nine each in Guimaras, Antique, and Silay City, seven each in Capiz and Negros Occidental, six each in Aklan and Bacolod City, four in San Carlos City, three in Passi City, two in Sagay City, and one each in Iloilo City, Bago City, Cadiz City, and Kabankakan City.
Public schools were ready to accept students from the closed schools, DepEd-Western Visayas said.
In-person classes in schools across the country started last week, after implementing blended learning methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions, however, paralyzed the operations of some small schools.
Earlier this month, the education department launched a probe after a series of schools shut down across the country, allegedly over financial constraints stemming from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 860 out of 14,000 private schools in the Catholic-majority nation closed their doors since the pandemic hit two years ago, according to the DepEd. The closures have affected 58,327 students and 4,488 teachers.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines reported that nearly 85 percent, or more than 700 of the schools that folded, were Catholic ones.
Former Education Department Secretary Leonor Briones said the schools might have valid grounds for closure, but they should be probed as to whether their actions violated the country’s laws.
“During this pandemic, there was a notable number of private school students transferring to public schools. According to our data, before the start of the academic year 2020 to 2021, it was estimated that 250,539 students transferred from private to public schools,” Briones told reporters on Aug. 16.