By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Registration desks in public schools officially opened on Saturday as the Department of Education (DepEd) pushed through with the scheduled Early Registration for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
The Early Registration is an annual activity led by DepEd to ensure that all new entrants for Kindergarten, Grades 1, 7, and 11 learners in public and private elementary and secondary schools nationwide are listed months before the opening of the new school year.
DepEd’s Early Registration desks are open starting February 1, Saturday to March 6, Friday, 2020. The Early Registration was originally scheduled from January 25 (Saturday) to February 28 (Friday), 2020 but it was moved to the current dates since January 25 was declared Chinese New Year.
The Early Registration is compulsory for public schools while optional for private schools.
Take Precautionary Measures
As DepEd pushes through with the scheduled Early Registration, it reminded schools to take precautionary measures amid the threat of the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV-ARD) spreading in the country.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a text message to Manila Bulletin, said that the Early Registration pushed through despite the first confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV in the country as announced by the Department of Health. “I believe so,” she said when asked if the schools will push through with the scheduled activity. “Not all regions are affected by nCoV,” she added.
Earlier, Undersecretary for Planning and Field Operations Jesus Mateo also confirmed to the Manila Bulletin the Manila Bulletin that the scheduled Early Registration will push through as planned. However, he reminded that “we have to take precautionary measures.”
In a memorandum issued by DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua dated on January 24, 2020, the agency alerted all regional directors, schools division superintendents, principals or school heads, both teaching and non-teaching personnel, learners and all others concerned to “take precautionary measures against the possible spread of the virus.”
In particular, Pascua strictly advised everyone to take precautionary measures such as making hand washing a habit; to always cover one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing; to avoid close contact with people who show signs of respiratory illness; to drink plenty of water and ensure foods are cooked properly and to consult a health facility if “symptoms of cough and colds persist.”
DepEd, in its earlier statement on nCoV-ARD expressed readiness to “contribute to the overall Philippine government efforts for the management of this public health situation” following the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in the country.
Members of DepEd ExeCom also recommended the creation of a Task Force on nCoV-ARD which aims to address the concerns and challenges that schools may face with the confirmation of the first nCoV-ARD case in the Philippines.
DepEd’s Early Registration is being conducted in public schools months before the opening of the new school year to help ensure that the agency will be able to accommodate incoming learners.
The surge of last minute enrollees has been a constant challenge to DepEd – with public school heads and teachers scrambling to accommodate learners who register on the first day of classes. Congested classrooms – especially in highly-urbanized areas where construction of new school buildings is a challenge due to lack of buildable space – is among the common problems faced by DepEd every school opening.
To help public schools anticipate the number of enrollees for the coming school year, the Early Registration was instituted in the DepEd Order (DO) No. 3, s. 2018, otherwise known as the “Basic Education Enrolment Policy.”
Aside from incoming kinder and grades 1, 7 and 11 students, the Early Regisration also “seeks to locate, identify and register” out-of-school children and youth in the community who may be characterized as: living with disability/ies, living in off-grid/far-flung community; a barangay without a school, or a geographically isolated area; displaced due to natural disaster; living in an armed conflict area or area with high level of criminality/drug abuse; having chronic illness or nutritional problem/s; victim of child abuse or economic exploitation; stateless/undocumented; in conflict with the law; living on the streets; and no longer in school but interested in going back to school.
DepEd said that the Early Registration policy prescribes that registrants must satisfy the eligibility rules. For Kindergarten, only those who are five (5) years old on or before August 31, 2020 are eligible; for Grade 1, participants should have completed Kinder or Philippine Education Placement Test (PEPT) Passer for Kinder Level or six (6) years old and above by August 31, 2020 but not Kinder Completer who assessed Grade 1-ready as per ECD checklist may also pre-register (DO 47, s. 2016).
For Grade 7, they must be Grade 6 completers or PEPT Passers for Grade 6 or Alternative Learning System Accreditation and Equivalency (ALS-A&E) Elementary Passers; and for Grade 11, those who will pre-register must be Grade 10 completers or PEPT Passers for Grade 10 or ALS A&E Secondary passers.
For Kindergarten and Grade 1, a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) or National Statistics Authority (NSO) birth certificate must be submitted. In case of its absence, Local Civil Registrar (LCR) birth certificate, baptismal, or barangay certificate can be submitted.
Meanwhile, DepEd said that the schedule of the Early Registration in Taal-affected areas will be “flexible.” Latest DepEd data showed that 548, 672 learners in 1,010 affected schools under four divisions in Region IV-A are affected by suspension of classes at all levels since January 13. DepEd noted that 10, 794 learners are currently staying in 224 schools which serve as evacuation centers. A total of 19, 714 DepEd personnel remain affected by Taal’s unrest to date.
Earlier, DepEd Region IV-A Wilfredo Cabral requested for the “extension date of the early registration to accommodate and account all those displaced by the ‘[Taal volcano’s] eruption.” DepEd has also directed that the documentary requirements in these affected schools be waived “subject for submission once available.”
Meanwhile, DepEd reminded that learners must also accomplish the Basic Education Enrolment Form during early registration. The Early Registration policy, DepEd noted, “upholds the right of all school-aged learners to enroll and be equally provided with quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education.”