MOST of the K-to-12 students who failed to enroll for school year 2020-2021 were from private schools, according to Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones.
Briones blamed the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Right now, apektado ito ng downturn ng economy, kasi ang malaking reduction sa enrollment ay from those who go to the private schools - mga anak ng OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), etcetera,” she said in a public briefing Thursday, August 13, 2020.
Economic activity has been almost at a standstill since mid-March, when the National Capital Region and the entire Luzon went into lockdown in a bid to contain Covid-19. Other key cities and towns in the country followed.
The country went into recession as gross domestic product (GDP) declined for two consecutive quarters, plunging by 16 percent in the months of April, May and June after a 0.2 percent decline in the first three months of the year.
Earlier, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told the Senate that enrollment in kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) in private schools dropped by about 64 percent to 1.55 million this year from 4.3 million in the last school year.
Enrollment in public schools also declined, but not as much as in private schools.
Malaluan said public school enrollment went down to 21.48 million this year from 22.57 million last year.
From these figures, the number of out-of-school youth exceeds four million.
DepEd officials previously noted that students from private schools have transferred to government schools, where tuition is free. Hence, the decline in enrollment in public schools is not as deep as that in private schools.
Briones said the decline may also be seen in students who used to enroll in alternative learning systems. Most of the enrollees here are working students.
This year, only 333,382 students applied under the alternative learning system, a 55 percent drop from 739,872 last year.
She also noted that some students are not aware that schools are accepting late enrollees until August 24.
“Iyong iba, hindi nila alam. Akala nila sarado na ‘yung mga eskwelahan dahil hanggang ngayon dine-debate pa. Sinasabi na namin right from the start that it is August 24, so mayroong a little bit of confusion so we are stepping up our communications and information,” Briones said.
Briones assured that the agency is looking for ways to alleviate the problems of out-of-school youth.
“So nag-pick up kami ng kampanya namin, and we also have the alternative learning systems, hinahanapan natin ng paraan na ipagpatuloy pa rin ang learning process nila,” Briones said.
The ALS is a program which provides alternatives to the existing formal education instruction for those who have been deprived of access to formal basic education. (Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)