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Party-list solon bats for 'extra efforts' to stop 7 million studes from dropping out

A party-list lawmaker on Saturday called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to exert extra efforts to prevent significant rise in the number of out-of-school children and youth (OSCY).

“The ongoing global pandemic poses a challenge, but the journey of learning must go on and the DepEd must strive harder to truly ensure that no Filipino learner will be left behind in terms of education amid COVID-19,” Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera said.

Herrera, a deputy majority leader, issued the call as she expressed concern over the failure of around seven million elementary pupils and high school students to enroll for the upcoming academic year.

“This number is almost double the 3.6 million OSCY in 2017, the last year for which data are available,” Herrera said, citing figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

She added: “Even before COVID-19, millions of Filipino children and youth were out of school. The suspension of classes in mid-March as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 has created further uncertainty for millions more children and youth in the Philippines.”

As of July 16, DepEd data showed that only 20.7 million had expressed their intent to enroll in kindergarten, elementary and high school. This represents 74.6 percent of the over 27.7 million students in public and private schools last year.

“The drop in enrollment for School Year 2020-2021 is understandable due to the pandemic, but the DepEd must exert extra effort to ensure more students are enrolled,” Herrera said.

The DepEd recently announced it will accept late enrollees until the end of September 2020.

This developed as Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong renewed his appeal for the DepEd and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to postpone the opening of classes on August 24.

Ong said that DepEd and the IATF-EID should take their cue from the President in his fifth SONA who admitted the country’s educational system was not yet ready to resume classes because of inadequate and inefficient digital infrastructure.

Ong said the President clearly  said “courses that are not substantial can be supplemented” and “education that is delayed can be recovered” -- expressing his concern on the opening of classes despite the absence of a vaccine.

In his SONA, Ong said even the President was clearly aware that the needed digital and physical infrastructure and the materials needed were not yet ready for DepEd’s blended learning program which also seeks to tap the use of the television as part of its mode of instructions.

Ong said:  “To my mind, this particular statement of the president is  a marching order for Education Secretary Leonor Briones to postpone the opening of classes and make sure that all the requirement needed to implement the blended learning program must be set it place.  

“Like the President said, education that is delayed can be recovered, so I really hope that the DepEd should at least move the opening of classes to September or until it is really ready to implement a blended type of conducting classes.”

He added: “We cannot resume classes relying on online learning without ensuring they have access to internet.

“Moreover, we cannot rely alone on private companies to invest on internet towers, as they themselves focus first on returns of their investment."

Topics: Department of Education , out-of-school children and youth , COVID-19
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