Enrollment still 13 million short of target â DepEd
There were more than 27 million students enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 12 last school year, most of whom – over 22 million – were in public schools.
Philstar.com/ Gladys Cruz

Enrollment still 13 million short of target – DepEd

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — With less than a week before the end of the enrollment period for the upcoming school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) is still nearly 13 million short of its original target.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones told CNN Philippines on June 11 that their target is to reach 28 million enrollees by the end of the month “or with some extension.”

“(When we have that), that means our target enrollment is already reached,” she said.

But data as of Saturday morning showed that only 15,182,075 students have so far expressed their intent to enroll in the upcoming school year, which is expected to forego face-to-face classes due to the risks of contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

More than 14.5 million of them intend to enroll in public schools, while 621,985 are in private schools.

There were more than 27 million students enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 12 last school year, most of whom – over 22 million – were in public schools.

DepEd reminded those who intend to enroll in public schools to do so on or before Tuesday. It has yet to announce if the enrollment period will be extended.

Learner enrollment survey forms may be submitted remotely or through the designated drop boxes in schools, barangay halls and other locations.

In the case of private schools, officials earlier said they expect the number to rise in the succeeding weeks as many have yet to start their enrollment periods.

Education Undersecretary for Curriculum Diosdado San Antonio said a review would be conducted on the recent department order requiring private schools to complete a checklist and submit a readiness assessment to implement distance learning.

Several groups earlier called for the suspension of the directive, with the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations saying it did not comply with the requirements for public consultation and publication for it to take effect.

DepEd would meet with representatives of private school organizations to discuss their concerns in the upcoming school year.

SHS voucher

Meanwhile, the DepEd said the application period for the senior high school voucher program would open on June 29. The voucher program provides subsidy to students enrolled in senior high school programs of private schools or state and local colleges and universities.

Those who completed junior high school in public schools are automatically qualified for the program, as well as private school graduates who are already beneficiaries of the Education Service Contracting program.

Those required to apply for qualification are Grade 10 completers from private schools, as well as passers of the accreditation and equivalency test or the Philippine Education Placement Test for Grade 10 level. The amount of the subsidy will depend on the category and location of the school where the student will enroll.

The deadline for application is on July 24, while results would be released on Aug. 14.

DepEd on Friday said it would continue the implementation of the program despite a budget cut of P1.7 billion in the program. Based on the 2020 budget, Congress originally allocated P23.9 billion to the senior high school program.

With the P1.7 billion reduction due to reallocation for programs related to the pandemic response, the program still has P22.23 billion, still higher than last year’s P18.755 billion.

The Philippines is eyeing to secure P436.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) from multilateral agencies this year to augment funds for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response efforts, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

In a radio interview with dzBB, finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino said the foreign borrowings is targeted to increase to P436 billion this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our debt has increased this year because we are fighting COVID-19. We were not able to budget this fight because the whole world was taken by surprise by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in Filipino.

Sought for clarification, Lambino told The STAR that the P436.9-billion target is expected to come in the form of ODAs from multilateral agencies and other bilateral partners. It does not yet include borrowings from the offshore commercial debt market.

This is part of the Duterte administration’s four-pillar socioeconomic strategy against COVID-19.

Despite the increased borrowings, Lambino assured the public that the country is not being buried in debt because of the health crisis.

He reiterated that the Philippines is in a good fiscal position, with a debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of 39.6 percent as of end-2019.

Lambino said the country has the headroom to increase its borrowings and expand its debt-to-GDP level to 50 percent by the end of the year.

Moreover, he said some credit rating agencies have affirmed the fiscal soundness of the Philippines.

Earlier this month, the Japan Credit Rating Agency upgraded the country’s credit rating to A- from BBB+, as it noted the Philippine economy’s resiliency even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

S&P Global Ratings also upheld the country’s BBB+ credit rating and stable outlook, defying a trend of downgrades and negative outlook revisions in other parts of the world.

Economic managers are projecting the budget deficit to widen to 8.4 percent of GDP this year, with COVID-19 expenditures expected to rise amid weaker revenue generation.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the DOF has to date raised $4.83 billion in concessionary budgetary support financing from various multilateral institutions for COVID-19 response.

These include loans from the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Agence Française de Développement of France.

Of this amount, Dominguez said $2.26 billion has already been disbursed for government programs.

In addition, the finance chief said the government also raised $2.35 billion last April from the issuance of US-dollar denominated global bonds, priced at the lowest coupon rate ever achieved by the government for these debt papers despite market volatility caused by COVID-19.

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