DepEd hits 22.2 million enrollment target

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
DepEd hits 22.2 million enrollment target
As of yesterday morning, DepEd said a total of 22,233,806 students have expressed their intent to enroll in public and private basic education institutions nationwide for school year 2020-2021.
Philstar.com / Gladys Cruz

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has reached its enrollment target of 22.2 million students for the upcoming school year, a 20-percent drop from the student population last year.

As of yesterday morning, DepEd said a total of 22,233,806 students have expressed their intent to enroll in public and private basic education institutions nationwide for school year 2020-2021.

This represents 80 percent of the more than 27.7 million students from kindergarten to senior high school last year.

Officials earlier said they project a 20-percent drop in enrollment due to the economic impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

More than 20.85 million have so far enrolled in public schools, which is 92.3 percent of enrolled students last year.

Meanwhile, only over 1.35 million have so far enrolled in private schools, a meager 31.1 percent of the more than four million enrollees last year.

Latest data also showed that over 365,000 private school students have transferred to public schools.

The number of enrolled students continued to increase despite the end of enrollment period last July 15 due to the lag in reporting of data, especially from private schools.

“Their enrollment period does not necessarily coincide with the enrollment period of DepEd,” the agency said in a previous statement.

Late enrollees would also be accepted until late September, based on the basic education policy that allows late enrollment “provided that the learner will be able to meet 80 percent of the prescribed number of school days for each school year.”

Despite the significant drop in enrollment, DepEd earlier said the number of those who enrolled is encouraging given the ongoing public health crisis.

“Despite the challenges posed by the economic impact of COVID-19, a clear majority of our parents have decided that the education of their children must continue,” said the agency.

Various groups have expressed concern over the millions who may be left behind next school year.

DepEd said it would encourage those who have not enrolled to sign up in the Alternative Learning System, which is originally intended for those who cannot enter the formal education system.

Meanwhile, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) has lauded President Duterte’s pronouncement during his fifth State of the Nation Address that he will not allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine is available.

ULAP president and Quirino Gov. Dax Cua welcomed the government’s “no vaccine, no face-to-face classes” policy to ensure that students and teachers would not be put at risk.

Cua said this policy was welcomed by many local chief executives as this would help in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“As the frontliners of the government, LGUs know the realities on the ground. We are happy that the President––as a former LGU chief––recognizes the challenges we face in order to keep our provinces Covid-free,” Cua said in a statement.

The ULAP official said they are urging all LGUs to work with the Department of Education to provide viable alternatives to face-to-face classes amid the pandemic.

“We have no choice but to innovate and find tenable workarounds for our kids, because the alternative is a year wasted because no parent will be comfortable sending their child to school under the current circumstances,” he added.

There have been at least 16 fatalities among children due to COVID-19, according to DepEd.

In Quirino alone, there are over 46,227 public elementary and secondary students that would need to be tended to this school year.

Cua said they are looking to utilize three approaches for their students – modular distance learning through self-learning modules, distance learning through online platforms, and video presentation of lessons for special education students.— Romina Cabrera, Rainier Allan Ronda

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