Children forgo schooling as parents lose livelihood
July Descipulo should have been in Grade 11 this coming school year. Continuing school, however, remains a dream as her single mother lost her job in a watch repair shop due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Her brother, a college student, also lost his work as a part-time babysitter in Makati City. He now sells food to make ends meet but not enough to buy a laptop for her had she and her three other siblings enrolled in Pasig City.
Free tablets in Pasig
Descipulo, 17, is just one among the many students who opted not to register this time. The city has 138,000 public school students.
“Don’t give up school. Just enroll. You won’t have to spend extra,” Mayor Vico Sotto said in an earlier Facebook Live briefing.
Sotto said the city had raised P1.2 billion for tablets and laptop computers, which would be given “automatically” to all public school students from elementary to high school.
The city government would also provide hot spots for downloading of modules and raise another P30 million to provide laptops and/or tablets to teachers and students at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig.
As of this month, only 2 million students from kindergarten to senior high school, as well as alternative learners, have enrolled for the coming school year in Metro Manila, and 19.5 million in the whole country, the Department of Education (DepEd) reported.
But all those who enlisted will not necessarily attend classes or complete the school year, according to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
Due to the uncontrolled pandemic and the destitute state of most Filipinos, more may be expected to join the at least 5 million learners whom the DepEd expects to defer enrollment this year, ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said in a statement.
“One child left behind is one too many, and the government is duty-bound to ensure each and every Filipino’s exercise of all of their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” Basilio said.
In Cavite province, some 100 private schools will not reopen this school year due to the pandemic, Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla said on Monday. (See story in Regions, Page A5.)
Open letter to Briones
In an online open letter to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Remulla criticized the DepEd for its lack of funding for distance learning.
“Under the Deped’s modular teaching and learning process for Cavite’s 600,000 students, we have to prepare P5 billion and that … this will be 100 percent shouldered by the [local government],” he said.
He noted that the province’s 2020 budget was only P4.7 billion. “This is only in Cavite. How much more in other schools?… [T]he reality is only the rich can afford to learn.” INQ
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