Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo on Sunday asked schools to facilitate the enrollment of more students following the Department of Education's (DepEd) move to postpone the class opening this school year from Aug. 24 to Oct. 5.
“We would encourage parents to take advantage of the six-week delay in the start of the academic year to enlist their children in school, if they haven’t already done so,” Romulo, chairperson of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, said.
“We would also encourage schools to find ways to accommodate all late enrollees, so that we lessen the number of children at-risk of falling behind in their learning,” he added.
DepEd had earlier cited “an extraordinary school non-participation rate” due to the COVID-19 crisis, with some four million learners failing to enroll for academic year 2020-21. Of this figure, some 2.75 million used to go to private schools while 1.25 million previously attended public schools.
As of Aug. 11, over 23 million learners had enrolled in public and private kindergarten, elementary, and high schools for the academic year 2020-2021, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.
The 23 million represents around 83.1 percent of the 27.7 million students enrolled in academic year 2019-2020, noted Malaluan.
Romulo, citing concerns on overall readiness of the agency, has actually been pleading to DepEd officials to defer class reopening during the past two virtual hearings of the Basic Education panel this month.
He said President Duterte's recent signing of Republic Act (RA) No.11480, which gave him the power to move or reschedule the start of the school year in an event of a state of emergency or state of calamity, makes this legally possible. The panel was instrumental in passing the law.
“We are also counting on the DepEd to use the rescheduling to further improve the school system’s overall readiness in administering the shift to blended remote learning. In fact, the DepEd should review the curriculum it has prepared to ensure its suitability to the new methods of studying,” Romulo said.
The Pasig lawmaker's remarks amplified those from other House members who have welcomed the postponement of class reopening.
"The deferment will allow DepEd to have a more efficient implementation of the ‘new normal’ in education, which will make use of blended learning. This gives the Department more time to detect and address the problems that may crop up," Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said.
Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong said the class postponement window should give DepEd enough time to fully equip their teachers with the necessary gadgets and instructional tools to cope with the blended learning system, the core of which is distanced-based instruction.