MANILA — Nearly 10 million learners have registered in public and private schools nationwide, data from the Department of Education showed Thursday, almost 2 weeks since the agency began a month-long enrollment period conducted mostly through virtual means.
The total number of enrolled learners was at 9,961,396 as of Thursday morning, with 9,642,105 coming from public schools, DepEd data showed.
Calabarzon is the region with the most number of enrolled learners at 1,662,239, followed by the National Capital Region (NCR) with 1,402,751, according to the DepEd data.
Central Luzon comes after the capital region with 1,103,213, data showed.
Over 27 million learners were enrolled in schools last year.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan earlier said there was no historical comparison with enrollment figures from the previous year as it was the first time the agency had carried out remote enrollment.
"Under normal times, early registration is for Kinder, Grade 1, Grade 7 and Grade 11 only," Malaluan told reporters in a Viber message.
"For the rest of the grade levels, these are updated at start of school year already when students actually start attending school," he explained.
The DepEd has ordered that the first 2 weeks of the month-long enrollment period this June must be done purely through remote methods.
Submission of enrollment data in schools can only be done starting the third week and must be coordinated with the local government unit.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said enrollment data — where the highly-urbanized regions took lead — showed that there were challenges to remote enrollment mechanisms in rural areas.
"'Yong online at tawag. Maraming areas ang hirap sa signal," said ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio.
(Many areas have difficulty with online and phone signals.)
But ACT, the largest union of education workers in the country with over 200,000 members, was also expecting the figures to go up as physical enrollment would be allowed in the coming weeks.
"Malaking bahagi naman ang inaasahan nating mage-enroll pa sa darating na mga araw, lalo na sa nakatakdang face-to-face enrollment, higit pa dahil nananatili itong pinaka-accessible na paraan para sa mahihirap na mag-aaral," Basilio said.
(We are expecting many to enroll in the coming days since face-to-face enrollment will be allowed, especially since it remains the most accessible way to enroll for poor students.)
Aside from technology, another teachers' group, the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC), believed the 3 regions registered the most number of enrollees since they were also the most populated regions in the country.
TDC Chairperson Benjo Basas urged parents to enroll their children, saying it was easy to withdraw them if they still had doubts over the coming school year.
In the Bicol region, where over half a million have already enrolled through virtual means, some parents are still doubting whether to enroll their children during the pandemic.
Beatriz Nantes, who lives in Camalig, Albay, said she would allow only one of her 4 children to return to school since her daughter studied in a mountainous area where there are barely any cases of the new coronavirus.
Nantes said she would not enroll her other children since their school was in an area where there is a high risk of contracting the disease, even as the DepEd planned to implement alternatives to in-person classes.
"Hindi ko papapasukin ang 3 ko pong anak... sa isang taon na lang po," she said.
(I won't let my 3 children go to school... maybe in the next year.)
The coming school year is scheduled to start on August 24.
— With a report from Jose Carretero, ABS-CBN News
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