Private schools' enrollment manages a little over half of last year's figure

With over two million enrollees this school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday announced that the private education sector has achieved 50.25 percent of its enrollment last school year.

DepEd, in its national enrollment data as of Sept. 30, reported that the enrollment in private schools - which covers Kindergarten, Elementary, Junior High School (SHS), Senior High School (SHS) and non-graded Learners with Disabilities (LWD) - has reached 2, 163, 690.

DepEd said that this number is 50.25 percent of the enrollment in private schools for the School Year (SY) 2019-2020 recorder at 4,304,676.

Among the grade levels, JHS has the highest number of enrollees in private schools with 820, 808 followed by SHS with 740, 695 enrollees. Elementary level has 517, 061 enrollees while 82, 648 pupils enrolled in Kinder. There are also 2, 748 non-graded LWDs who enrolled in private schools for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the downturn in economy, the private education absorbs the brunt of COVID-19 with low enrollment this school year. Based on the data of DepEd, enrollment in private schools started quite low in June.

Despite this, DepEd anticipated that the figures will still increase due to a lag in reporting of enrollment data. “Their enrollment period does not necessarily coincide with the enrollment period of DepEd,” the agency said. DepEd is also gathering enrollment data under Homeschooling.

With fewer students, a total of 865 private schools have informed DepEd that they will suspend their operations this school year. The temporary closure of these schools directly affected 62,815 individuals or 58, 327 students and 4, 448 teachers. In SY 2019-2020, DepEd said that there were 14, 435 private schools which operated nationwide.

Despite this, DepEd said that a total of 5,601 private schools which started their operations as early as July and August.

Even if the Aug. 24 school opening was deferred and was moved to Oct. 5, private schools were allowed to start and continue with their operations granted that there are no face-to-face person classes and they have complied with the requirements set by the DepEd - especially in the implementation of distance/blended learning.

Meanwhile, the leftist Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)  criticized an education undersecretary for allegedly “downplaying” the lack of printed Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) for distance/blended learning.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio noted that Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio “unabashedly claimed that the poor progress of module distribution is not a gauge of readiness to resume classes.”

ACT alleged that many students in various regions have yet to receive printed SLMs.