Private school enrollment drops to less than half | Inquirer News

Private school enrollment drops to less than half

/ 05:20 AM September 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The situation in private schools seemed to be worse than Education Secretary Leonor Briones initially estimated in June as actual enrollment figures showed that less than half of learners have registered in those institutions this school year.

According to updated data presented on Friday by the Department of Education (DepEd), only 49.62 percent of the expected number of private school students registered for this school year, or only 2.1 million compared to last year’s 4.3 million learners.


Back in June, Briones expressed confidence that enrollment would pick up a month before classes in some private schools began on Aug. 24 but the numbers did not improve and only 27 percent registered in private schools in July.

Briones surmised that more than half of private school students transferred to public schools as the pandemic affected the financial situation of Filipino families.


According to DepEd data earlier this month, at least 865 out of 14,435 private schools nationwide that opened in the previous academic year suspended operations this year because, Briones explained, they either had too few incoming students or their teachers transferred to public schools.

Most of the closed schools were in Central Luzon, while the rest were in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Bicol Region.

The schools told the DepEd they might reopen next year if the situation improves, but their closures have already affected more than 3,000 teachers and 40,000 students this year, data showed.

NO EASY SHIFT Fourth grader Ashlee Dino pays attention to her computer screen at her Navotas City residence during an e-learning simulation session on Aug. 5. The Department of Education on Friday reported that more than two million private school students have transferred to public schools, citing the pandemic’s heavy toll on the financial situation of many families. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

‘We can’t go back’

At the Senate hearing on the DepEd’s proposed 2021 budget on Friday, Briones said enrollment in public schools had reached 99.16 percent, or 22.3 million.

With the 2 million enrollees in private schools, a total of 24.5 million students will undergo the DepEd’s pilot blended learning program this school year starting Oct. 5.

“I would like to emphasize that our focus is not only maintenance, going back to where we were. We all know that we cannot go back, so this budget is part of our effort to prepare the department in its transition to the future,” Briones told members of the Senate committee on finance.

Classroom redesign

The education chief outlined the DepEd’s programs that underpin its proposed 2021 budget of P605 billion, an increase of P52 billion from the agency’s budget of P553 billion in 2020.


In her presentation, Briones said the pandemic also highlighted “the inadequacy of our schools to meet the requirements of the near future,” especially once schools return to in-person learning.

To prepare for this transition, the department plans to redesign classrooms and school buildings.

“Classrooms will look different. Standard classrooms will no longer suffice. Aside from those that need to be repaired, the size will have to change to allow physical distancing,” Briones said.

The department, Briones said, has prepared a list of items that would facilitate these changes, such as the replacement and completion of school buildings, classroom furniture, wash facilities and water supply.

The DepEd also hopes to combine artificial intelligence with existing basic education modalities.

P127B more needed

But the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said the DepEd actually needs more—at least P126.9 billion—for a budget that would ensure safety, accessibility and quality education amid the health crisis.

Of this amount, ACT proposes allocating P116.6 billion for teaching and learning needs under the blended modes of learning.

This includes the costs of providing laptops to every teacher (P19.1 billion); P1,500 monthly internet allowance for teachers for 10 months (P15 billion); increasing to P10,000 the teaching supplies allowance (P9 billion); tablets and internet subsidy to at least 5 percent of the most crisis-affected students (P13.3 billion); module printing (P51.5 billion); module distribution and retrieval (P8.5 billion); family literacy program (P100 million); and reinstating funding for special education (P107 million).

ACT, the government-accredited negotiating body for public school faculty and personnel, said the additional budget can also cover P1.7 billion for preventive health measures in the education sector, such as purchasing personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies, while the rest can be used to grant benefits to its front-liners in education.

“The delivery of education suffered delays for this school year due to our education system’s difficulty in shifting to remote learning amid the uncontained pandemic,” the group said in a statement.

“With no end in sight to this health crisis, we urge lawmakers to judiciously allocate the people’s coffers to enable the provision of social services like education to the Filipino people,” the group added.

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