THE Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, said the number of out-of-school youth is seen to reach four million because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

During the Senate committee on basic education hearing Wednesday, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said more than four million K-to-12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) students have not enrolled for school year 2020-2021.

This is based on K-to-12 enrollment figures in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local colleges and universities (LCUs).

Malaluan said total K-to-12 enrollment in SUCs and LCUs reached only 23.078 million for the next school year, a decline of nearly five million or about 17 percent compared to 27.77 million in school year 2019-2020.

Normally, enrollment increases by an average of two percent yearly.

Of the 23.078 million, 21.48 million are in public schools while 1.55 million are in private schools.

Malaluan said enrollment decreased by more than one million, or about five percent, in the public sector and by about 2.8 million, or 64 percent, in the private sector.

Enrollment in school year 2019-2020 was 22.57 million in public schools and 4.3 million in private schools.

Only 333,382 students applied under the alternative learning system (ALS) this year, a 55 percent drop from 739,872 last year.

“So kung susumahin ‘yan mayroon tayong extraordinary non-participation on account of Covid as of today that is about four million learners,” Malaluan said.

Classes are set to resume via distance learning schemes on August 24 despite calls for an academic freeze.

President Rodrigo Duterte has prohibited face-to-face learning sessions until a vaccine against Covid-19 becomes available. (SunStar Philippines)