MANILA — The Philippines' education department reached its target enrollment rate for the coming school year, although lower than last year's total number of enrolled students due the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the agency showed Wednesday.
Some 22.2 million learners have registered in public and private schools nationwide for the 2020-2021 school year, which is only 80 percent of last year's 27 million enrollees, according to the Department of Education.
Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo has said the department eyed for a lower enrollment rate this school year, citing the effects of the prevailing health crisis.
"Kailangan natin tingnan kasi yung nangyayari ngayon. Ang isang naapektuhan ay ang ekonomiya. Kapag naapektuhan yung income, mayroon tayong problema dyan tungkol sa pagpasok ng mga kabataan," he said in a press conference earlier this month.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said parents still enrolled their children since they have a better appreciation of the distance learning schemes that the department was offering.
It has also become clearer to parents that gadgets and internet connection are not required for their children to participate in the new learning modes, he said.
"There is also some impact with the demonstrations of the dry runs," Malaluan said in an interview.
"I think there is some high level of trust among some learners and some parents that we can offer learning opportunities despite the COVID," he added.
Children who will not be able to attend the coming school year may take DepEd's Alternative Learning System, according to Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio.
Calabarzon led the regions with the most number of enrollees at over 3 million, followed by Central Luzon (2.3 million) and the National Capital Region (2.2 million), the DepEd data showed.
Other regions where the number of enrollees reached over a million are the Ilocos region, Bicol region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Soccsksargen.
The Cordillera Administrative Region, meanwhile, recorded the least number of enrolled learners at 346,133.
While the 45-day enrollment in public schools ended last July 15, late enrollees will still be accepted until late September, according to the DepEd.
Some 1.3 million learners have registered in private schools but the DepEd expects the figure to rise in the coming weeks since enrollment was still ongoing.
When classes start on August 24 in public schools, lessons will be delivered to students through online platforms, printed and digital modules, television and radio.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the conduct of limited face-to-face classes next year in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
-- With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News