Message to the CEAP 2019 General Membership Meeting

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[CEAP National Convention 2019, Iloilo City]

I. We come joyfully to this CEAP National Convention in Iloilo. Its theme in the Year of the Youth: “Yes, YOUth can!”  It is a message addressed primarily to the young people of our schools.  The question is put to them:  Can you usher in a new tomorrow for our country through the depth of your dreams, the strength of your faith, the courage of your action, the holiness of your lives?  Our answer is their answer:  Yes, YOUTH can!  And in gratitude for the fact that what our youth can do in the world in the name of their Lord and King is an outcome of our schools, big and small,  when the question is put to us, Catholic educators, administrators, professors, teachers, guidance counselors, campus ministers, librarians, lab technicians, can you continue to sustain our schools, continue to form our youth in the joy and challenge of the Gospel in today’s world, continue to struggle against the pernicious forces that challenge the existence of our schools, our answer in God’s name is, “Yes, we can!”

II. Catholic Schools are resolved to continue providing Catholic education to Filipinos. Catholic students have the right to Catholic education. 

They say this because of the deep value they recognise in integrating the proclamation of the Good News in Jesus Christ and formation in the Catholic faith with the delivery of excellent education.

They say this because formation in the Catholic Faith is formation in openness to other faiths and religions and formation in a Fraternity of Humanity that rejoices in the diversity and beauty of God’s creation.

They say this because formation in the Catholic faith, in the relationship between the individual and God, and in the consequent imperative for the Catholic individual to contribute to the common good, that is, to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth, is good for Philippine society – at it is subjected to influences that destroy its traditions, take away its joy, divide the conscientious service of God from the world of work or of politics or even of private life

This is the firm resolve of Catholic schools despite recent developments in the Philippine educational landscape that are inimical to private education, Catholic education included.

Catholic schools will, with their students and learners, their parents, their alumni and alumnae, their benefactors and stakeholders, and with the Catholic Church, struggle to continue providing Catholic education to their students.

They call on their friends and supporters in government, in the executive, legislative and judiciary, to support them in this struggle.  And to oppose efforts that use the heavy hand of the State to kill private and Catholic schools.

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III.   Catholic parents have a constitutional right prior to that of the State to rear their children [Art XIV, Sec. 2 (2)] and so to decide for the Catholic education of their children.  The State should support the parents in their decision to provide their children with Catholic education.  Catholic Learners and Students have “a right to Christian [Catholic] Education” (Gravissimum Educationis, 2) that is best delivered in Catholic schools. 

“A Christian [Catholic] education …has as its principal purpose this goal: that the baptized, while they are gradually introduced to the knowledge of the mystery of salvation, become ever more aware of the gift of the faith they have received, and that they learn in addition how to work, God the Father in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23) especially in liturgical action, and be conformed in their personal lives according to the new man created in justice and holiness of truth (Eph. 4:22-24);

also that they develop into perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13) and strive for the growth of the Mystical Body; moreover, that aware of their calling, they learn not only how to bear witness to the hope that is in them (cf. Peter 3:15)

but also how to help the Christian formation of the world that takes place when natural powers viewed in the full consideration of man redeemed by Christ contribute to the good of the world society.”

“Since parents have given their children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators” (Grav. Ed., 3)

Any pressure by the State to force students into public schools where Catholic Education cannot be taught is contrary to the rights of Catholic parents, learner, and students.

IV. Catholic education is part of private education.  The Constitution provides for one system of quality education for all where public schools and private schools function in complementarity.  Because public schools cannot teach religion, as parents may deem fit for their children, one of the reasons in complementarity for the existence of private schools is that they can actually teach religion.  

To protect this right of Catholic parents to choose to educate their children, Catholics must insist on maintaining the complementarity between public and private schools in the Philippines, as is provided for by the Consititution.

“The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the education system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions” (Art. XIV, Sec 4. (1)]   This is not only a complementarity in quality standards, where each side must uplift the other, but a complementarity between non-religious instruction in one, and religious instruction in the other.

The “reasonability” of State supervision and regulation necessarily proscribes State acts that destroy the viability of private schools in general and Catholic education in particular.

V. When the State undermines private education through its one-sided support of public education, it not only undermines the right of Catholics to Catholic education, it undermines the excellent work that many private educational institutions have achieved in quality education, which would complement the quality of public educational institutions.  

Among the nations’ oldest educational institutions renowned for quality are private institutions:  the University of Sto. Thomas, Ateneo de Manila University, de la Salle University, St. Louis University of Baguio, San Carlos University of Cebu, University of San Jose – Recolletos in Cebu, Silliman University in Dumaguete, Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, Notre Dame University in Cotabato, the University of the Immaculate Conception in Davao, etc..

Among the schools in the one system of education in the Philippines, providing access to quality education are 900 small and mission CEAP schools.

The private schools are able to adapt more quickly to respond to the needs of a changing world:

  • Shifting the focus from educational inputs to achieving extraordinary learning outcomes benefiting the whole person
  • From degree-based learning to life-long learning
  • Mobilizing and ethically using information, data, knowledge, skills, values attitudes and technology to engage effectively and act across the divers 21st-century contexts to attain the individual, collective and global good.
  • Applying what they have learned across fast-changing, unpredictable and often disruptive contexts including responding to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

But government action is hurting our schools:

Enrollment today in HEIs is 46% public, 54% private;  in 2000 it was 70% private.

38 SUCs were converted or established from 2001-2010.

Enrollment in Elementary schools:  91% public, 9% private, <1% SUC/LCU

Enrollment in JHSs:  82% public, 17% private, , <1% SUC/LCU

Enrollment in SHSs:  57% public, 41% private, , 2% SUC/LCU  – until they began to cut the budget for this!

Educational Service Contracting (ESC) and Teacher Salary Subsidies (TSS), despite increases, are not enough to offset migration from private schools to public/

Budget for vouchers being cut:  from 1.2 million slots last year to 707,000.  This is only 59 percent of last year!

Our schools are threatened by harmful policies:

Harmful:  Opposition to No Permit, No Exam Policy

Harmful:  Proposed Removal of the authority to withhold transfer credential in D.O. 88, s. 2010.

Harmful:  Local Government interfering with the right of schools to exercise discretion in hold classes

Harmful:  Proposed No Homework policy.

Harmful:  Making student discipline in schools appealable to DepED. In DO 88, s. 2010.

All this is coming from bad legislation and bad policymaking.  You know why?  Because we allow them to do this!  We don’t complain.  We don’t object.  We are good Catholic educators.  Now, however, because we resolve to sustain Catholic education, this must change!

VI. Qualified Catholic schools must be allowed the academic freedom to instruct, to do research, and to serve the community as their Catholic vision and mission demand.  With no substantial resources coming from the government to support these Catholic schools, they must not be limited by the quality limitations and administrative restraints of public schools. 

Restraints on private Catholic schools to enter inter private contracts with their stakeholders to maintain or improve the education that they pay for, including limits on tuition, should be overcome.

Why not allow quality education in the Philippines, rather than force people to go abroad?  Why not allow Filipinos to deliver quality education at whatever quality may cost and people are willing to pay for, rather than importing foreign education at foreign costs that no one will question.

This is not only in the interest of the schools and their clientele; it is the interest of the Philippines.

VII.    There are still no universally accepted objective third party metrics to check the quality of public schools vs. that of private schools.  Yet legislation and government policy blindly favors the former to the latter, legislated public money bullying the private schools to struggle to keep the teachers they have painstaking trained, if not forcing them to closure, the public weal being the loser.

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The salary increases for public school teachers based on legislation vs. salary levels for teachers dependent on the market create an uneven field.  When the clientele is poor private salaries can only remain low.  Yet, the poor who are taught is the same both for the public as well as the private schools. This salary injustice, we must oppose.

The public assurances that the DepEd would hold back in the construction of public senior schools should the private schools invest in them were deceptive; now the DepED declares that the public schools can handle the public school students, cutting its voucher slots from 1.2 million to 707,000.  This is only 59 percent of the original provision.  Many of the private school have already invested in new facilities;  they are now being denied the students that would allow them to recover their investments.

They are doing this because we allow them to do this.  They are doing this because we don’t object.  But to save our schools, we must object.  Our government must not be deceptive and unfair with impunity.

Furthermore, the Congressional Oversight Committee on the implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Law (RA 10533) has not met to check on the implementation of RA 10533 to check on:

  • Access
  • Delivery of quality basic education
  • The delivery of learning outcomes in Science and Mathematics
  • In reading and literature
  • In the social sciences
  • In the formation of nationalism, patriotism, the moral fiber of our learners, and leaders of tomorrow.

Currently, legislators give the impression that nationalism and patriotism can be adequately  taught through an ROTC course!

Are the graduates of the K-12 reform better prepared for college, the world of work, lifelong learning, leadership in the Philippines?

That the Congressional Oversight Committee has not met is grossly irresponsible because new legislation may be worsening a bad situation and depriving the country of sources of quality instruction.  e.g. the situation of University of San Carlos or of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro.

The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law (10933) favors the State Universities and colleges (SUCs), and Tertiary Education Subsidies (TES)  prioritizes Listahanan students and students in areas where there are no SUCs and LUCs.

While this did benefit private schools where no SUCs/LUCs are situated, it was a disappointment to HEIs in the vicinity of SUCs/LUCs where the quality of the SUC/LUC is merely assumed.

In the first year of implementation, quality was not factored into the implementation.  This meant good public money was being used for institutions of unverified quality.  Quality was not factored in the algorithm that distributed the TES money.  Correcting this is still a work in progress at the Unifast.

The lack of reliable quality assurance (as in the AQAF) means it is not clear that the standards of the Philippine Qualifications Framework – which relates our graduate professionals to the requirement of qualifications in other ASEAN countries – are being achieved.  Yet the blind favoring by the government of public schools remains.

VIII.  The Catholic schools need to be able to organize the private sector to maintain their schools no matter the adverse conditions of the Philippine educational landscape.  This includes winning the support especially of the Catholic Christian communities led by their bishops, but also of government in its three branches.

Among the significant recent development in Catholic education in the Philippines is the new partnership between the CEAP and the Episcopal Commission on Catechetics and Catholic Education (ECCCE) of the Catholic Bishops’ conference of the Philippines (CBCP).   Through this partnership, the leaders of the Catholic school and the leaders of the Catholic bishops collaborate on mutual concerns.

Among these concerns are the problems between bishops and congregational schools.  And the problems between bishops and schools owned and administered by laypersons.  It is not only religious and priests who carry the burdens of Catholic education;  Catholic education today is emphatically lay.  And we must not deal with our lay co-workers in Catholic education unjustly.

The provision of Catholic education for their Catholic youth, who have a right to Catholic education, remains the bishops’ “most serious obligation”:

“Wherefore this sacred synod recalls to pastors of souls their most serious obligation to see to it that all the faithful, but especially the youth, who are the hope of the Chruch, enjoy this Christian education” (Gravissimum educationis, 2)

Catholics must identify legislators willing to support private schools and Catholic education based on the Constitutional provision: “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate action to make such education accessible to all” (Art. XIV, Sec. 1)

They must also identify private sector supporters, esp. among those who have received Catholic education.

IX. Collaboration with other private associations must not diminish the right and determination of the Catholic schools to sustain their schools in order to deliver Catholic education.  For CEAP, its support of the private education sector is not primarily about the support of for-profit education, it is about the right of parents to provide their children the Catholic education that supports standards of excellence in education and the right of the Catholic community to offer it in credible educational institutions recognized by the State.  

X. Because of the salary standardization law which today raises the compensation of public school teachers using taxpayers money, CEAP will vigorously support legislation to provide that, when the compensation of public school teachers is raised by legislation over the compensation for teachers that can be supported in the market, the State shall provide a standardized salary not only for public school teachers but also for private school teachers, since the educational outcomes of both the public and private teachers are public goods.

This is but a demand, in justice, for our teachers!  Do you want this? Then let us with our numbers demand it of our legislators!

XI. CEAP calls upon its 1,500 schools, their students and learners, their families and their communities, to support the continued existence of Catholic schools,  counting politicians who advance its purpose through private education as political allies, and counting politicians who undermine private and Catholic education as political opposites.   

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Thank you for the privilege of having served you as your President in the last three years!  May the Lord continue to bless CEAP and especially you who carry the administrative burdens of our Catholic schools in the Philippines!

 

 

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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