Fewer students this year in Luzon, Visayas
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Fewer students enrolled this school year in Luzon and the Visayas, even as millions of students returned to school via blended distance learning facilities as the new school year officially started on Monday.
But schools in Pangasinan have opted to postpone the start of blended classes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.
The towns of Calasiao, Binmaley, Sta. Barbara, Rosales, Bugallon, Basista, and Dagupan City have moved the class opening to Oct. 3, citing a public health emergency due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Dagupan Mayor Brian Lim, in an order on Saturday, also prohibited teachers and school personnel from distributing self-learning modules to students to avoid face-to-face interactions and mass gatherings. Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that 568,849 grade school students were enrolled in public schools in the province.
As of Monday, Pangasinan has 3,900 active COVID-19 cases, of which 875 were in Dagupan City, local health records showed.
DepEd data showed that the student population in most regions in Luzon and the Visayas has dropped, prompting the education department to extend the enrollment to Sept. 30.
A total 1,043,505 students were enrolled in public schools in the entire Ilocos region, which was lower than the 1,287,192 enrollees in the previous school year.
In the Cordillera, the DepEd will attempt to reduce the distribution of self-learning modules (printed workbooks) to the 341,525 grade school and high school pupils to encourage pupils to learn their lessons online, heeding the push for full online learning being advocated by Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
DepEd Cordillera Director Estela Cariño said half of the pupils would be encouraged to learn their lessons online and workbooks could be emailed to pupils as part of an “online and offline learning management system” that included the use of two-way radios for outskirt communities, and lessons broadcast through the radio and television.
In Bicol, the region has 1,552,077 learners this school year, lower than the 1,667,388 enrollees recorded last school year, said Mark Kevin Arroco, DepEd Bicol information officer.
The majority of Bicol’s students chose the modular distance learning system while only a few chose the online learning, radio and television learning module, and the synchronous module because of frequent power outages and poor internet availability in the region.
In contrast, the number of enrolled students in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) rose from 812,891 last year to this year’s 891,555 students, the region’s DepEd said in a post on Facebook.
In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), the DepEd said in a post on Facebook that there were 2,993,925 enrollees in the region as of Sept. 10.
Optimism amid pandemic
In Eastern Visayas, at least 954,073 students were enrolled for the school year, lower than last year’s 1.2 million, said Jazmin Calzita, the DepEd’s regional information officer.
Central Visayas also has a lower student population this year, from 2.1 million to 1.9 million. But education officials of both regions were optimistic the number would go up since enrollment would continue until the end of September.
“We expect the number of enrollees this year to exceed that of last year because our enrollment continues until Sept. 30,” said DepEd Central Visayas Director Salustiano Jimenez.
Like in 2020, students in the regions would use the blended learning method — either with modules or through online classes depending on the capability of both the students and the teachers.
—REPORTS FROM YOLANDA SOTELO, JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS, VINCENT CABREZA, JUN MALIG, MAR S. ARGUELLES, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES, JOEY GABIETA, LEO UDTOHAN, CARLA P. GOMEZ AND ADOR VINCENT MAYOL
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