By Jel Santos
A teachers’ group on Sunday (June 14) expressed its concern over the “slow down” of the enrollment rate for school year 2020- 2021, saying this indicates that many learners will be left behind.
On June 13, the Department of Education (DepEd) said a total of 10.5 million students have enrolled and registered for school year 2020-2021, marking a 33 percent slowdown in enrolment rate—from 6.3 million enrollees by June 6 to just an additional 4.2 million after a week.
“If this enrollment rate decline persists, we can only expect 4.7 million more to enroll in the remaining two weeks, coming to mere 15.2 million total enrollees in 4 weeks. That’s an alarming 44 percent drop from last year’s 27.2 million enrolment data. Where then is education continuity for 12 million learners who will likely be left behind this school year?” Raymond Basilio, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general, said in a statement.
He noted that the figure of 27 million learners is even “conservative” as the population of school-age children grows yearly.
ACT said the “dismal” turnout is due to the worsening health and socio-economic crisis, as well as the poor infrastructure for remote school operations.
“While ACT perceives that physical enrolment may boost these figures due to its relative accessibility to poor families, especially in rural areas, the group raised concerns about school safety as no measure has been put in place to ensure this,” the group said.
In spite of wanting to enroll their children, Basilio said, many parents find it difficult because of the lack of material government support to enable remote enrolment—such as sufficient aid for poor families and establishment of needed infrastructures, among others.
“In fact, reports from parents indicate that many are awaiting the permission of face-to-face enrolment so they may enlist their kids for the coming school year. It bears noting, however, that no mass testing has been done among education workers, nor have health and safety measures been placed at the school level in preparation for such,” the secretary general of ACT said.
With this, the teachers’ group challenged DepEd officials to approach the situation with “strong minds and hearts,” by foregoing its “myopic” learning continuity plan and implementing a comprehensive, scientifically grounded, and compassionate approach to ensuring a safe return to schools and inclusive quality education.
“True public servants are guided by their constituents, which allow them to sharply and comprehensively approach any crisis. Quit wasting everybody’s time and resources with repetitive empty pronouncements on the out-of-touch BE-LCP and instead recognize how tightly interwoven education is with the health and socio-economic conditions of the country. Only then will it be able to sincerely advance education continuity for all,” Basilio said.
DepEd is still pushing for the continuity of learning despite the current COVID-19 pandemic.