DepEd ex­tends en­roll­ment to July 15

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JANVIC MA­TEO

The De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (DepEd) has ex­tended un­til July 15 the en­roll­ment pe­riod for pub­lic schools.

The ex­ten­sion pe­riod would cover both re­mote and drop­box en­roll­ment from kinder­garten to se­nior high school, the agency con­firmed in an ad­vi­sory.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque had ear­lier an­nounced the ex­ten­sion of the en­roll­ment for pub­lic schools, which was two months ahead of the sched­uled open­ing of classes on Aug. 24.

The month-long en­roll­ment pe­riod was sup­posed to end yes­ter­day, but lat­est data showed that mil­lions of stu­dents have yet to sig­nify their in­tent to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion next school year.

As of yes­ter­day morn­ing, only 15,907,786 stu­dents have ex­pressed their in­tent to en­roll in the com­ing school year, dur­ing which there would be no face-to-face classes due to the risks of coro­n­avirus dis­ease 2019 (COVID-19) in­fec­tion. Over 15.2 mil­lion in­tend to en­roll in pub­lic schools

na­tion­wide, while some 672,403 stu­dents reg­is­tered in pri­vate schools.

Last year, more than 27 mil­lion stu­dents en­rolled from kinder­garten to Grade 12, most of whom – over 22 mil­lion – are in pub­lic schools.

Var­i­ous groups have ex­pressed con­cern over the low num­ber of en­rollees for the com­ing school year.

With the cur­rent fig­ure, the Al­liance of Con­cerned Teach­ers (ACT) said some 10 mil­lion school chil­dren would be de­nied a fair chance to move for­ward with ed­u­ca­tion along with their class­mates.

The group added that the low turnout re­veals what it de­scribed as a weak­ness in the DepEd’s learn­ing con­ti­nu­ity pro­gram, which it said pushes for the con­ti­nu­ity of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion de­spite the chal­lenges brought by the on­go­ing pub­lic health emer­gency.

“We urge DepEd of­fi­cials to open their eyes to the re­al­ity. The pan­demic has gravely dis­rupted the lives of our peo­ple. Mil­lions of fam­i­lies have lost their liveli­hood, which makes them more vul­ner­a­ble to in­fec­tion, es­pe­cially now that com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion is grow­ing,” the ACT said.

“How can we ex­pect th­ese fam­i­lies to pre­tend that the sit­u­a­tion is nor­mal and their chil­dren can go on with for­mal ed­u­ca­tion? Filipino fam­i­lies value ed­u­ca­tion im­mensely, but the time makes it es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult for them to com­mit to the req­ui­sites that the learn­ing con­ti­nu­ity plan (LCP) asks from par­ents and learn­ers,” it added.

In­stead of re­sum­ing for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, the ACT pro­posed the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a tem­po­rary non-for­mal adap­tive learn­ing pro­gram while the coun­try ad­dresses the pan­demic.

“Its non-for­mal na­ture will rem­edy the re­stric­tions set by en­rol­ment sched­ules and pro­cesses re­quired by a for­mal school year,” the group said.

“It is fluid enough to take in stu­dents for con­tin­ued learn­ing when their fam­i­lies are ready and can be closed when­ever the coun­try is ready to open a for­mal school year,” it added.

Na­tional Union of Stu­dents of the Philip­pines pres­i­dent Raoul Manuel said the gov­ern­ment must not in­sist on flex­i­ble or blended learn­ing as it may de­prive many stu­dents of their right to ed­u­ca­tion.

“The shift to ‘flex­i­ble’ learn­ing has al­ready caused too much stress to stu­dents and fam­i­lies who do not have in­ter­net con­nec­tion and the nec­es­sary gad­gets,” Manuel said.

“In­stead, the gov­ern­ment must fo­cus on how to make the re­sump­tion of phys­i­cal classes safe and at­tain­able the soon­est time pos­si­ble. This in­cludes mass test­ing, san­i­tiz­ing school cam­puses and en­sur­ing more class­rooms that al­low phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing,” it added.

The DepEd has re­peat­edly stated that fam­i­lies would not be re­quired to buy gad­gets as printed ma­te­ri­als are among the learn­ing op­tions avail­able next school year.

Other op­tions in­clude us­ing ra­dio and television to de­liver ed­u­ca­tional con­tent di­rectly to homes.

Un­der the planned dis­tance learn­ing setup, par­ents and guardians are ex­pected to play a greater role in the ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren.

Vol­un­teers may also be tapped in com­mu­ni­ties to as­sist teach­ers and par­ents who may need ad­di­tional sup­port in teach­ing the stu­dents.

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