DepEd extends enrollment to July 15
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.