19.26M enrolled for new school year
BY RED MENDOZA
The Manila Times
AS the date of class reopening nears, the Department of Education (DepEd) said around 19.26 million students have been enrolled for the school year 2022 to 2023. The figure is 69.89 percent of the total 27.5 million students recorded in the enrollment of school year 2021 to 2022, and is also near the target of 28.6 million for this school year. It is also higher than the 16.038 million who enrolled 12 days before the school year opened in 2021. DepEd spokesman Michael Poa urged parents to enroll their children before the last day of enrollment on August 22 and discouraged the practice of last-minute enrollment of students, which has been the norm among parents. “I hope we discourage enrolling our kids on the last day so that the DepEd can prepare the numbers of actual learners in our schools,” Poa said in a recent joint briefing with the Office of the Vice President. A total of 16.94 million of those who enrolled are from public schools, while 2.25 million are private-school students, and 64,801 are from state and local universities and colleges. Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) had the highest number of enrollees at 2.803 million, followed by Central Luzon at 2.18 million, National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) at 2.162 million, Western Visayas at 1.49 million, Central Visayas at 1.46 million and Bicol Region at 1.27 million. Poa said there was a big difference in the turnout of enrollees compared to the previous school year, noting that last year, only 2.4 million enlisted in the first week of enrollment, but this year, it jumped to 10.4 million. He noted that with the ongoing pandemic and the aftermath of the Northern Luzon earthquake, there will be strategies on how to deal with parents enrolling their children on the last day or even as classes are ongoing. “[For] the strategies to be effective, we need to get concrete numbers on how many learners are expecting per school,” Poa said. He also said the DepEd, together with partner agencies from both the public and private sectors, as well as other stakeholders, will launch the DepEd Public Assistance Command Center on August 15 to manage the public’s concerns and issues regarding the class reopening. Poa acknowledged that there will be challenges at the opening of classes but if the public will help each other, the safe reopening of classes for learners is assured. In a separate briefing, Health Officer in Charge Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they remain supportive of the DepEd’s plan to reopen classes despite Covid-19 cases increasing in the country. She added that while there are concerns regarding physical distancing in classrooms across the country, other health and safety measures, such as the strict wearing of masks, proper ventilation and hand hygiene, must be implemented to prevent a surge of cases among students. Vergeire cited the requirement that all teachers and non-teaching personnel should be vaccinated against Covid-19, and she encouraged parents to have their kids inoculated to prevent them from getting the severe form of Covid-19. She also proposed the appointment of school safety officers who would supervise and monitor the school for possible outbreaks and train kids on health protocols. “Kailangan alam n’ya kung paano mag-disinfect, paano kung magsasara ng isang classroom and paano magre-refer sa ating facilities (They should know how to disinfect, how to close a classroom and how to refer to other facilities),” Vergeire said.