President López Obrador announced Wednesday that his government will look at ways to support private schools that are seeing a substantial drop in enrollment due to the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus.
The president acknowledged that the health crisis is expected to result in many private school students migrating to public schools, leaving the private institutions in a precarious financial position.
“The decrease in enrollment will lead to more demand in public schools. We have to resolve the situation so that they do not close and look for ways to help to continue guaranteeing the right to education,” the president said. “We are not going to abandon the education and health of the people; we have to find a way to solve the demand for education.”
He did not specify what measures would be taken to keep private schools afloat but Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma Barragán will give an update on the educational system each day at 5 p.m.
The National Confederation of Private Schools (CNEP) had asked to establish a dialogue with the federal government to address their needs and discuss the possibility of relaxing or forgiving payroll and property taxes. Whether those measures will be a part of the prospective government aid plan remains to be seen.
“Due to the crisis, we already know that there are families that will not be able to keep their children in private schools and there are private schools that are already reporting that they will not have enough students,” the president said earlier this week. “No one will be left without the right to education and to the best of our ability we will also help these private schools. We have to do it because it is about education.”
According to data from the CNEP and the National Association for Educational Promotion, as of the end of July 30% of the students who attended private schools last year had not re-enrolled, putting 25% of private schools at risk of closing.
It is estimated that 5.3 million students attend private schools that employ 485,188 teachers. The country has 200,000 public schools and 1.2 million teachers, Moctezuma said.
Public schools are set to reopen on August 24 but classes will be broadcast on television, radio and via the internet as part of the SEP’s “Learn at Home II” program. In-person classes will resume once the government’s coronavirus stoplight map shows a state has moved to a green, low-risk level.