Alarm raised over 3 million drop in school enrollees

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Alarm raised over 3 million drop in school enrollees
Kindergarten students introduce themselves during the first day of classes at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City on August 29,2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro expressed alarm over the three million drop in the number of enrollees for this school year, calling on Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte to explain the worrisome trend.

Based on the Department of Education’s Learner Information System (LIS), the total number of enrolled students as of Sept. 6 is 25.9 million, or three million short of DepEd’s 28.8-million enrollment target for school year 2023-2024.

“Our children’s future is at stake, and we cannot allow any child to be left behind. We call on the VP and Department of Education to concentrate more on this problem rather than the surveillance of their perceived enemies,” she added.

While the number is short of the DepEd’s target nearly a month since enrollment in public and private schools began, schools would still be accepting enrollees until the end of the month, according to DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Cesar Bringas.

“Given the recent disruptions due to tropical storms and etc., the numbers are still moving until now. Schools are still reporting to the LIS, and once 100 percent of schools have reported, the enrollment will close and we will have the official number for this school year,” Bringas told reporters.

Aside from this, Bringas acknowledged that many students may have opted not to enroll this year and that the DepEd would be presenting them with alternatives to continue their schooling.

“The reason for not enrolling is not because they are displaced. The public schools do not refuse enrollment. Once LIS closes after the first month, schools will employ child-find procedures to determine reasons for not returning to school,” he said.

“ALS will be the other alternative for them to continue if they are unable to continue formal schooling for some reason,” he added.

Bringas said the DepEd is confident that it would reach its targets.

Meanwhile, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) said children aged 2 have been left out of the government’s national feeding program.

NNC executive director Azucena Dayanghirang said that right now, there are feeding programs like NNC’s “Tutok Kainan” for under 2 years old, as well as for children attending daycare centers, but none for the 2-year-olds or those beyond 2 but less than 3 years old.

“We will be expanding the program because those in daycare centers are 3 to 5 years of age so the 2 year old plus (24 to 35 months) were overlooked,” said Dayanghirang at a recent press briefing.

Since the NNC’s feeding program covers only children 6 to 23 months while those enrolled in daycare centers are 3 years and older, kids 24 to 35 months are not given attention, NNC officer-in-charge deputy executive director Jovie Raval said.

She added that if this issue is not addressed, this may result in the stunting and wasting of these children.

Dayanghirang likewise said that they already made an appeal to the health secretary (Ted Herbosa) to increase the NNC’S budget so that the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) can be implemented.

Launched Monday by concerned agencies led by the Department of Health, the PPAN serves as the blueprint or framework to guide government, nongovernment organizations, academe and private sector in a coordinated effort to reduce all forms of malnutrition.

The program seeks to address all forms of malnutrition with a particular focus on stunting and wasting, overweight and obesity, poor infant and young child feeding practices, and micronutrient deficiencies.— Rhodina Villanueva

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