By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Department of Education-Region 6 (DepEd-6) expressed optimism on Friday that the same number of enrollees in the last school year (SY) will return for SY 2021-2022, which opens Monday, September 13, 2021.
DepEd-6’s data as of Sept. 9 indicated that 1.49 million learners have enrolled in all levels for SY 2021-2022 in public and private schools, state and local universities and colleges (SUC/LUC), as well as Special Education (SPED) and Alternative Learning Systems (ALS).
This translates to 71.13 percent of the total number of enrolled learners in SY 2020-2021 (2.09 million).
Majority of this year’s returning learners are in private schools (143,972) which is 74 percent of last year’s total number of enrolled learners (193,063).
Private school enrollment data is composed of Kindergarten (7,239), Elementary (30,589), Junior High School or JHS (57,802), and Senior High School or SHS (48,342).
Public school enrollment for this year is at 72.14 percent of last year’s numbers, with 1.33 million already enrolled out of 1.84 million enrolled last year. Most of the enrollees were Elementary learners (618,553), followed by JHS (444,023), SHS (181,155), and Kinder (88,550).
There is lower turnout in SUCs and LUCs for the coming school year, with 2,008 students enrolled, or 50.08 percent of last year’s number (3,953).
SPED also reported 71.37 percent enrollment turnout for this year, with 3,467 of 4,858 learners already enrolled.
The lowest turnout is for the ALS program, where only 9,458, or 19.84 percent of last school year’s 47,665, were enrolled.
In a virtual press conference, DepEd-6 Director Ramir Uytico said that they could not say if there was low or high turnout of enrollment this year.
Uytico said the current statistics from DepEd’s central and regional offices are higher than those they have published.
“As of now, we cannot give a categorical answer as to whether the enrollment numbers are low or high because the enrollment is still ongoing. Enrollment is still set to end on September 13, and I’m sure that it will still grow. Based on the [DepEd] central office’s count, compared to last year, we are at 80.1 percent, but based on our count in the region, it is higher,” Uytico said.
Dr. Leo Deduroy of DepEd-6’s Planning, Policy, and Research Division said possible reasons for reduced enrollment are all connected to the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
These include limited movement, limited access to information, distance of both parents and learners from their schools, some learners already working, and other reasons which may be exacerbated by the present health crisis.
Deduroy also clarified that parents are not required to submit their child’s birth certificate every year if they will be staying in their current schools.
“Parents’ movement is limited by community quarantine protocols. As per guidelines, the parents are the ones to fill out and submit the form because learners cannot submit the form. Other parents cannot immediately fill out and submit especially if they work outside of their own provinces due to the restrictions. Some others are also busy looking for daily sustenance, so they don’t have the time to pass by their children’s schools,” Deduroy explained.
Uytico also said that they are prepared for the influx of parents to come in on Sept. 13, with the DepEd working with local government down to the barangay level to enroll students in the remaining days.
He added that there is still no instruction from DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones on the extension of enrollment beyond the first day of classes.
“We still have [Friday to Monday] for the parents. Rest assured that we will inform all divisions immediately if the secretary has announced an extension for enrollment. But for now, it is definite that the last day of enrollment is the first day of classes which is Sept. 13,” Uytico explained.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The DepEd-6 also presented its achievements for SY 2020-2021, with 4,114,108 learners served amid the COVID-19 pandemic through various modes.
These include 3,573,394 using printed modules, 68,462 for digitized modules, 133,368 on online learning, 4,796 using educational television, 65,458 using radio-based learning, and 268,630 learners opting the “blended” or a mix of two or more learning modes.
The DepEd regional office touted schemes implemented by division offices to make learning productive.
These include “Modyul Baylo Bigas” implemented in Tuboso, Negros Occidental, where rice would be given to parents and guardians in exchange of completed modules; “Modyul Mo, Gulay Ko Plus” by the Division of Sagay City, with groceries and vegetables given to the learners; At-Home Learning Spaces and Balay Eskwelahan by the Divisions of Iloilo and Capiz which transformed idle home spaces into in-house classrooms, and “Painting Ko, Buhay Ko” where ALS students across the region sell their artworks.
For this coming school year, Uytico issued Regional Memorandum No. 175, or the Institutionalization of Educational Innovation in Western Visayas RM No. 175 s. 2021.
This aims to showcase innovative implementation of basic education services in Curriculum and Instruction, Policy, Planning, Research, and Governance, Learning Environment, Human Resource Development, and ALS, SPED, and Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) systems.
Uytico said Western Visayas has “learned its lessons” in implementing the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BELCP) from the previous school year.
He remarked that the past year “was not perfect” and observed personal and professional growth of both teaching and non-teaching staff.
He also expressed gratitude to the division, district, and school officers for directly addressing parents’ and learners’ concerns at the ground level, citing his observation of zero to little complaints the DepEd offices have received.
He touted that through partnerships with public and private sectors, especially the media, has helped them to keep with the regional office’s tagline, “Home of the Champions”.
“We are no longer the education leaders of the past. We are now equipped with knowledge, skills, attitude and values, because of what we experienced last year. We need champions like you. (sic) Even in the midst of limitations and challenges, and the difficulties, we should never give up, because we have been claiming that Region 6 is the home of the champions, and champions will never quit, champions will never settle for less,” Uytico said.