League of Filipino Students NCR said the Department of Education (DepEd) 99.68% enrollment rate in public elementary and high schools is “misleading at best and deceptive at worst.”

“This is also insulting to those who are unable to continue with their studies, displaced by DepEd’s distance education and government lockdown,” the group asserted.

The group said the number of students who were unable to enroll, at 3.07 million, is alarming.

There were 27,790,114 enrolled in the school year 2019-2020.

The DepEd reported 24,720,714 have enrolled or an 89.01% enrollment rate in public and private elementary and high school students as of October 1. Of this number, those enrolled in public schools are at 22,500,863, that DepEd said comprised 99.68% of last year’s public schools enrollment.

On why the 99.68% report of DepEd is misleading, League of Filipino Students NCR said that:

  1. DepEd reported in August that 400,000 have shifted from private to public schools and this number contributed to increase the enrolment in public schools. DepEd looked to attribute this number as ‘returning’ public school students in order to say they achieved almost 100% enrollment.
  2. DepEd glosses over the fact that enrollment decreased by 3.07 million students from last year. This is a big number by any measure. This adds to the number of out-of-school youth in the country that DepEd placed at 3.6 million in 2017. The group said this is the biggest number of unenrolled in the last six years.
  3. DepEd hides that those who were not able to enroll in public schools or those unaccounted could actually number to 1.3 million students. More than 1.7 million are unenrolled or unaccounted from private schools.
  4. The DepEd failed to mention that enrolment has gone up by an average of almost 1 million every year since 2015. The DepEd is measuring itself against a lower number, if enrolment was expected to be only the same as last year, when DepEd should expect enrolment to be higher.
  5. DepEd failed to mention that this school year saw the lowest number of students enrolled at least since 2015 (over 25 million enrolled). There is an 11% decrease in this school year’s enrolment from last year.

“This kind of doublespeak is characteristic of this government who has continued to praise its response in the lockdown, despite numbers saying otherwise…Despite also trying to paint a picture that the government is on top of the situation, they could not set out to bring students back-to-school, as this would ease the troubles of those unable to enroll due to the shift to distance education,” the group said.

In an interview, League of Filipino students NCR Chair Vince Impas said, “This crisis in education worsened with Duterte’s distance education and government lockdown. A generation would be lost unless the youth would fight for their right to education and also to compel the Duterte administration to address the country’s most pressing problems or to just leave if they are so incapable.”

400,000 students transferred from private to public schools

Managing Director Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada of private schools group Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA)  earlier asked DepEd to clarify its enrollment data, especially that 400,000 students transferred from private to public schools this school year.

Estrada said it may not be accurate for DepEd to state that 99 percent have enrolled in the public schools from last year’s data if 400,000 came from private schools.

For private schools, this is not a negligible number and amounts to 20%  of the current enrollment in the private schools.

Estrada said that this also means “there are public school students that dropped out and unaccounted for.”

DepEd said on September 30 that it would accept late enrollees until November as long as they could attend 80% of the total class days for the school year.

Full digital learning in NCR slammed

On October 2, DepEd NCR Director Malcolm Garma announced that they are looking to shift to all digital learning by third grading in NCR, as modules are costly and tedious to prepare. This was despite results of their surveys that showed students, parents and teachers preferred printed materials over online classes or digital platforms as many do not have access to them.

League of Filipino Students assailed this saying, “The government chose the education program modality that is most expensive, inaccessible and ineffective to cover up its failings. And now it could not even put funds towards its own stop-gap programs.”

The group said the number of displaced students is expected to increase with those who would be unable to continue with the government’s distance education, and many more if the shift to all digital learning in NCR pushes through.

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