How about giving acceleration exams to students who fail, or choose not to enroll, this school year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Magdalo Party-List Rep. Manuel Cabochan III gave this suggestion Friday as the Department of Education (DepEd) held a virtual briefing with House members to discuss the readiness of the agency for the August 24 school opening.
“Would you consider na mabigyan ng qualifying exam for acceleration yung mga estudyante na hindi makaka-enroll or naka-enroll ngayon but for some reason can’t push through (Would you consider giving acceleration exams to students who won’t be able to enroll this year, or those who have enrolled but for some reason can’t push through)?” Cabochan asked DepEd Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan, the presenter during the briefing.
“Parents and children would always want to proceed to the next level and not skip a year,” the neophyte solon said in justifying his proposal. He later told Manila Bulletin that he had filed House Bill (HB) No.6994 for this purpose.
Cabochan told Malaluan that his particular question covers school year 2021-22, which is for next year. “To determine lang po yung grade or year level nung incoming students (This is in order to determine the grade or year level of the incoming students).”
Minutes earlier, the DepEd official revealed to the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture that only 17.8 million basic education students have enrolled for school year 2020-21, which is slated to begin on August 24. The figure is 64 percent of last year’s enrolment level, Malaluan said.
Cabochan aired concern over this drop in enrolment rate.
“We are in a situation where we have a pandemic. Mayroon ho tayo ditong single parents, widowed, or walang income or yung mga nawalan ng trabaho who cannot afford gadgets at wala hong access sa Internet, TV, or radio (We have single parents, widows, those with no income or who were laid off, and those who cannot afford gadgets and have no access to the Internet, TV, or radio).”
He also acknowledged that some parents have chosen not to enroll their kids at all for other reasons related to the pandemic.
Malaluan at best was non-committal in his response to Cabochan’s proposed acceleration exams. He said DepEd’s effort is still focused on the enrolment of children for this school year.
“We take in a very positive light yung nabanggit kanina na kailangan nating pag-isipan yung mga hindi makakaparticipate dito sa formal education ngayon. Kung may way tayo na ma-catch sila para hindi rin maiwanan (We take in a very positive light what was earlier said about thinking of a way to make those who can’t participate in this year’s formal education catch up. We don’t want them to get left behind),” he said.
“Pero bukas pa po ang enrolment natin hanggang July 15 (But enrolment is still open up to July 15),” the official added.
Basic Education panel chairman, Pasig lone district Rep. Roman Romulo commented that Cabochan’s suggestion “had merit.”
In the end, the Magdalo lawmaker said he welcomed DepEd’s response that they will be considering policies for learners who will not be able to enroll.
“I hope that DepEd will consider having qualifying examinations for acceleration for students who will not be able to enroll this school year as what is provided by HB 6994. As DepEd has also said during the hearing, we should ensure that no student will be left behind and education will truly be inclusive,” he said.