ACT Teachers interpellation of DepEd budget hearing, 2 Sept 2016 1

I have a question about the Memorandum
of Understanding or Memorandum of Agreement of DepEd under Bro. Armin Luistro
with APEC by Ayala Group and Pearson. Peason is a British,
a UK education multinational, so this is a global corporation. This Memorandum of Agreement
was signed in 2013, supposedly subject to renewal every year. I highlight this because this raises a question for us. You have a Manual of Regulations
for Private Schools, which supposedly covers
all private schools. But in this MOA You agreed, DepEd agreed to exempt
APEC–Ayala and Pearson– from the regulations in your manual. So for instance, Ayala and Pearson are pushing for the so-called
low-cost education model. So that they can offer junior high school and
senior high school education at a low cost. And one of their
cost-cutting [measures] will be to be exempt
from your manual which says they have
to have a title, they have to own land, they have to have certain facilities like libraries, laboratories
and so on. Here the big corporations
of Ayala and Pearson are exempted by DepEd. You say to the
other private schools, “you are required to have a title, land, and these facilities.” But for Ayala and Pearson, they are not required. In fact,
in your MOA, it says there In your MOA,
it says “The determination by the DepEd
of the adequacy of school facilities of APEC Schools shall be based solely
on the APEC Model as described in Appendix A and shall be on an examination of the school facilities
as a whole. Hence, individual components
of the APEC Model described in Appendix A
relevant to facility adequacy shall not, by themselves,
be considered grounds to declare the facilities
of an AP School inadequate, provided that the AP School complies with the AP Model and
Health and Safety standards in determining adequacy
of school facilities.” So basically,
you said in your MOA, the standards APEC will follow are standards APEC itself set. So in other words,
my point here is, APEC was given
special treatment by DepEd to operate low-cost
private schools. Also in their MOA is a target for ambitious
expansion of APEC. First in NCR, then
eventually nationwide. It’s in their business model
that tuition is low-cost, and their tuition is matched
to the amount given [to students] by the voucher program. (Chair: You may answer . . .)
In other words, in the business model of Ayala, they will profit from the
23 billion allocation in the General Appropriations Fund. But how about the
other private schools required to follow the manual of regulations? And because they do, they cannot match APEC’s low-cost. So in other words, there is no level playing field.
Chair: The chair would like to ask the Secretary
to please reply to the question. Yes. Briones: You were saying a while ago
that these are subject to renewal. These happened
before July 1, 2016. All contracts that DepEd has entered into, especially with private schools, will be reviewed. If there are changes
which are necessary or required, in compliance with law and
in compliance with our own policies, that will be done. Our legal office,
I just instructed him to give me a full report
on this particular model. Tinio: Has the APEC MOA been renewed
for this school year? Every year supposedly, you renew it, and they’ve been allowed to open more. Briones: Right now, under review. And even the GASTPE program
is also under review, the payout system. We’re also looking into, the observation
for example of the Commission on Audit that it is not necesssarily
subject to audit. The auditing code provides that
every single centavo of public funds, wherever it is located,
to whomever it is given, wherever it is housed, has to be traced and audited. So we are also looking into that. Another question,
besides Ayala-Pearson, are there other MOAs
following a similar low-cost model? There are other big groups
wanting to get into this business. They saw that there is a 23 billion
budget from the government. They can capitalize,
literally, on this. Threatened are the
traditional private schools
who cannot compete. They have huge capital,
they have an international partner, then they have
special treatment from DepEd. So are there similar MOAs
in existence? Briones: I have just asked
our legal team, there are contracts,
but small ones. This would be the biggest. But, I assure you,
we will look into it. Those from NCR
(National Capital Region) may have seen it
in Ayala malls’ cinemas. They advertise the APEC Schools. They boast of offering
free private school education. (Chair: Please wrap up,
your time is up.) Thank you. My concern here is how the delivery
of senior high school education is being privatized and
handed over for profit to these big corporations, not to mention their lower quality
due to the low-cost model. So thank you for that,
Madam Chair. (Chair: Thank you.) Madam Chair, we are now undergoing
that process of reviewing them. We have to review
our earlier policies. As I said, even the GASTPE system
is being reviewed because this is assistance
given to private schools. Thank you for the information. (Chair: Thank you.)

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