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DepEd: Enrollment breaches 26 million

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
DepEd: Enrollment breaches 26 million
Teachers receive calls for help from students at the Tele-Aral Center in Taguig City yesterday. The city government’s Tele-Aral program assists students in blended learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Over 26 million students have enrolled for the current school year, surpassing last year’s figures and indicating that learners who skipped classes are returning to the basic education system, according to the Department of Education.

DepEd data as of yesterday showed that a total of 26,308,875 learners have registered for school year 2021-2022, which started on Monday. This is equivalent to 100.3 percent of the enrollment figures in 2020.

“The data also show that 11 out of 17 regions have achieved more than 100 percent enrollment rate, indicating that learners who did not enroll last year are returning,” the department said in a statement.

DepEd said it is still expecting enrollment figures to increase as it extended the registration period until Sept. 30.

It thanked teachers, school heads and its regional offices for their dedication and hard work in encouraging the public to enroll.

“Likewise, we are grateful to the parents of our learners who continue to put their trust and support in DepEd and for learning continuity amidst the pandemic,” it added.

The first year of blended learning amid the pandemic for SY 2020-2021 saw a total of 26.2 million learners enrolled, a drop from the 27.7 million students in the previous school year.

Blended learning will continue to be the main modality as face-to-face (F2F) classes for basic education have still not been approved by President Duterte.

The DepEd said it has already identified 100 public schools and 20 private schools for the pilot resumption of F2F classes in low-risk areas but this is still awaiting Duterte’s approval.

Incentive for teachers

A bill has been filed in the House of Representatives seeking additional monthly allowance for public school teachers assigned outside their cities or municipalities of residence.

House Bill No. 10174 or the proposed “Distant Public School Teachers Incentives Act,” filed by social services committee chair Alfred Vargas, proposes the grant of monthly stipend of P2,000 to P4,000 for teachers who need to travel far from their residence to attend to their duties in public schools.

Vargas cited the need for the additional allowance as he explained that assigning teachers to places outside their respective localities “entails additional expenses on the part of the teachers and invariably affects the quality of education.”

“It is the hope of this measure to properly recognize and compensate our public school teachers who dedicate their lives to promoting quality and accessible education amidst the hardships of being assigned outside of their residence,” the Quezon City 5th district congressman stressed.

Under HB 10174, any public school teacher who is assigned to a city or municipality other than the one where he or she is a resident will be given an additional monthly incentive allowance of P2,000.

A teacher assigned to a city or municipality in another province, on the other hand, will be entitled to P4,000 in monthly allowance.

The incentive allowance will be discontinued once the teacher is transferred back to his or her home city or municipality. The monthly incentive allowance will be tax-exempt.

School closures

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian flagged both the education and economic scars that will result from prolonged school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a briefing of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) on the proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP), Gatchalian cited a 2020 report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which said that the present value cost of face-to-face closure is estimated at P1.9 trillion for school year 2020-2021 or an equivalent of over 10 percent of gross domestic product.

“It’s not only scarring the learner himself or herself but also scarring the economy through productivity losses,” Gatchalian, who has been pushing for the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas, said.

National Economic and Development Authority director general Karl Chua clarified these figures with the ADB which stated that the cost of yearlong school closures could be higher than initially estimated.

NEDA also estimated that because of yearlong school closures, productivity lost in the next 40 years will amount to P11 trillion.

Gatchalian also cited other findings of the ADB, which reported that for K-12 students, the net present value of lost productivity is P1.68 trillion. The ADB also said that assuming 50 percent or approximately 200,000 of 410,000 teachers and personnel in private schools lost their jobs, wage loss for SY 2020-2021 is estimated at P16 billion.

Considering that at least one adult had to supervise a student for home-based learning, 11 percent of the work force had to stop working, which cost the economy a total of P225 billion for one school year, said the ADB. – Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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