Like their counterparts in the Philippines, Philippine Schools Overseas (PSOs) are set to resume face-to-face classes for the academic year 2022-2023.

As Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sarah Z. Duterte directed in its Department of Education (DepEd) Oder No. 034, S. 2022, Philippine public and private schools are to resume face-to-face classes this August, ending in July 2023.

The DepEd Order also covers PSOs as they operate under the authorization and supervision of DepEd, initializing the face-to-face classes for these foreign educational institutions.

PSOs are duly-registered educational institutions operating outside the Philippines but using the basic education curriculum of DepEd. They are required, however, not only to comply with DepEd's requirements and regulations but also with the guidelines set by the host countries. A valid permit to operate from the host country is required before they can apply for accreditation with DepEd. To date, PSOs have fully adopted DepEd's Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) Curriculum. A total of 25 out of 35 schools have been granted permits to operate the Senior High School Program.

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

At the height of the pandemic, PSOs in 10 countries closed temporarily as mandated by the host nations. Schools had to observe health protocols prescribed by their respective host countries to ensure the safety, welfare, and protection of learners, teachers, and school personnel.

Resuming normal operations was not easy for PSOs. The pandemic caused many overseas Filipino worker (OFW) parents, who had children studying at PSOs, to lose their jobs. Some remained employed but had to accept cuts in their salaries or give up some benefits they enjoyed before, among other things. As a result, some PSOs had to close down because of low enrollments which made their continued operation untenable, a problem that also led to the closure of several institutions in the Philippines.

BEGINNINGS

PSOs were established as a way of keeping parents and children together. From the 1970s to the 1990s, there were many stories of Filipino families torn apart because one or both parents had to work overseas to give their children a better future.

Overseas Filipino communities sought a way to bring OFWs and their children together abroad. One of those initiatives was the establishment of private educational institutions – the PSOs.

The educational institutions offer affordable quality education using the DepEd-prescribed curriculum. With the school and faculty accredited by DepEd, students could easily transfer to any institution in the Philippines without being treated as learners from foreign schools. Students would not have to take validation tests in the Philippines for levels they completed in any PSO.

PSOs promote and provide exposure to Filipino values and traditions while encouraging an appreciation of the cultures of host countries. Students learn Filipino, English and other DepEd required subjects, as well as the history/language of the country where they are temporarily based.

Thus, PSOs play a vital role in the propagation of the Philippine culture and heritage among Filipino youths overseas. They also serve as hubs for Filipino community activities.

The first PSO was established in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1991, and more schools are opened every year. As of June this year, there are 35 PSOs in ten countries – Bahrain, East Timor, Italy, Greece, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Some 25,000 students are currently enrolled in these PSOs from pre-elementary to high school.

Since the first Filipino educational institution opened outside the Philippines, these schools have done much in bringing together overseas workers and their children. They have also worked hard to promote academic excellence among young Filipinos studying abroad.

The CFO currently serves as a member of the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) which was established to serve as a policy-making body and forum for matters involving the management of PSOs. Composed of five (5) member agencies the Committee is co-chaired by the DepEd and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Other members are the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. The CFO also serves as the Secretariat of the IACPSO.

Know more about our PSOs by visiting our website at https://www.cfo-pso.org.ph/