DepEd hopes for higher enrollment this school year

Published October 9, 2020, 5:08 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

While it has achieved 100 percent of last year’s enrollment with the current number of enrollees this school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) remains hopeful that more students will still enroll for School Year (SY) 2020-2021. 

As of Oct. 9, the DepEd data showed that the enrollment in both public and private schools has reached 24.83 million. This, however, is only 89.43 percent of the total enrollment in SY 2019-2020, reported at 27.7 million. With this, around 2.9 million students remain “unenrolled” to date.

In public schools, the DepEd claimed that it has already achieved 100 percent of last year’s enrollment with 22.60 million students. But enrollment turnouts in private schools and in the informal system remain lower compared to last school year. 

Based on the latest data of the DepEd, there are 2.176 million enrollees in private schools, comprising 50.57 percent of last SY’s enrollment. Enrollment in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) also suffered a blow with only 401,713 enrollees, equivalent to 54.29 percent of the 2019-2020 enrollment.

DepEd Undersecretary for Planning Jesus Mateo told the Manila Bulletin that the agency is “exhausting all means” to bring all learners back to school this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked to clarify why DepEd claims 100 percent enrollment when around 400,000 students from private schools transferred to public schools this year, Mateo explained that “all learners— whether from public and private—are under the department.”

“We have the complementarity of public and private schools,” Mateo explained. As cited in the Constitution, he noted that the State should recognize the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system especially in exercising “reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions.”

“Whether the learners come from public or private schools, it is important to highlight that we want to give everyone an opportunity to continue their education,” Mateo explained.

As part of its efforts to generate higher enrollment this school year, Mateo reminded parents and guardians that late enrollment is still ongoing. “We accept late enrollees until Nov. 21 even if classes have already started,” he said. “But it would be better if they enroll the children now so we can prepare the learning materials that they need to catch up,” he added.

Meanwhile, a teachers’ group alleged that the DepEd is “twisting” its enrollment data to cover up its ill-preparedness for school opening.

A week after the school opening, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines sounded the alarm on “impending” number of dropouts. The group said that since the opening of classes on Oct. 5, many enrolled students have expressed their frustration with “problems on learning materials, devices, and expenses,” among others.

“Instead of busying itself with twisting the data to make it appear that we have reached 100 percent enrollment in public schools, the DepEd should be more concerned with how to keep those enrolled studying,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.