BETWEEN 200,000 and 400,000 students who finished Grade 10 are not expected to go on to two more years of senior high school under the K-12 program this year, but Education Secretary Armin Luistro said this is lower than the 50 percent dropout rate in previous years.
“Definitely, the enrollees for Grade 11 will be much, much more than half of the historical numbers that we were seeing when we had fourth year high school,” Luistro said.
“For the first time in history we have a national database of enrolled Grade 11 students both public and private,” he added.
Luistro’s statements came amid reports of low enrollee turnout on the first day of school and nationwide protests by youth groups against the K-12 program.
As of Monday, the DepEd national server has received over 600,000 enrollment lists from more than half of the 11,000 schools offering SHS, Luistro said.
Most of the schools that were not yet able to encode enrollment data are public schools located in remote areas and private schools that will begin the school year in July or August, he added.
Luistro said there are at least 1.1 million Grade 11 students already enrolled in various schools offering SHS nationwide.
An estimated 700,000 to 800,000 Grade 11 students are enrolled
in public schools, while 300,000-400,000 students will pursue senior high in private schools, state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, and technical-vocational institutions.
About 1.5 million students completed Grade 10 in school year 2015-2016.
Luistro said the expected high turnout of enrollees could be attributed to the wider range of options, in terms of tracks and schools, that SHS students have, offering them programs covering academics, sports, arts and design, and technical-vocational livelihood.
Furthermore, access to senior high schools are “better this time,” compared to the almost 2,000 higher education institutions available, Luistro noted.
Some 11,000 schools nationwide are SHS-ready. Of this number, 6,002 are public schools operated by DepEd while 5,031 are private schools, private and public universities and colleges, and technical vocational schools.
Senior high school is the last mile of the implementation of the K-12 program, which adds two years to the country’s basic education system.
Militant groups on Monday dismissed Luistro’s optimistic statements as “delusional arguments” to cover up K-12 problems.
“It is despicable that our government is trying to hide the fact that K-12 has worsened the decade-old woes of our education system. They insist that this is the best school opening when in reality, around a million students were forced to drop out,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) national spokesperson JP Rosos said.
“DepEd has gone delusional when they insisted that this is the best school opening and everything is falling into places. The harsh reality is far from the fictions they conjured. Yes, everything is falling—falling into pieces as they shattered the dreams and future of a million students,” he added.
The LFS, the Kabataan party-list and other youth groups staged protests nationwide against the K-12 program during the opening of classes Monday.
Noise barrages and signature drives were held in various high schools as well as at the University of the Philippines, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and other universities.
Students and groups representing teachers, workers and others converged near the DepEd head office in Pasig City in the afternoon to express their opposition to the K-12 program.
Parallel protests were also held in different cities including Baguio, Los Baños, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro.
Luistro, however, said that problems being reported by the media were those that could be solved in a day.
“I am certain there will be challenges on day one. But none of those will be insurmountable, especially since our schools and divisions have prepared for this for the past three years,” he said.
He said that while only 30 percent of students began enrolling Monday, they will eventually be able to hit their target of having 80 percent to 90 percent of Grade 10 finishers enrolling in senior high.
The government has included a P21.19 billion allotment for an SHS voucher program in the 2016 education budget. Under the program, Grade 10 finishers from public schools who enroll in private schools offering senior high school will get a subsidy.
Also on Monday, the Gabriela Women’s Party appealed to the incoming Duterte administration to reconsider its support for the K-12 program.
Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus, among the petitioners against the K-12 program, echoed apprehensions of various youth groups that the additional two years in basic education would result in millions of students dropping out.
De Jesus said that the government has never been ready for K-12, which she said is an added burden to families, especially the poor, who have a hard time sending their children to school.
She also said the voucher program was insufficient.
“The P22,500 vouchers that the DepEd promised as financial aid turns out to cover only up to 80 percent of fees, and the balance can eat up to 40 percent of a family’s income for every single senior high school child,” De Jesus said.
As of the weekend, she said, only half of the expected enrollees have logged on, fueling fears that more than 600,000 youths will be unable to enroll for senior high school or college.
“The enrollment crisis has domino effects. Without students, many schools would be unable to hire teachers, which will worsen the unemployment not only among academic staff but also food vendors, transport workers, and other self-account traders dependent on enrolled students. It is still not too late for DepEd to stop the K-12 program and allow students to graduate and instead enter college courses to avoid the idle year for students who fail to enlist for Grade 11,” she said.
Earlier, the militant youth group Anakbayan said only 3,839 of the 7,976 public high schools nationwide have submitted proposals to implement senior high school next year.
Anakbayan said the figure was alarming as “students will be forced to transfer to private schools and pay expensive tuition.”
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) said it has estimated that more than 39 percent of earnings of a low-income family will be consumed by the costs of a child entering senior high school because of the K-12 program.
As classes in public schools started Monday, low enrollment turnouts were reported despite the voucher subsidy.
The Palace said Monday the DepEd would address all concerns regarding the K-12 program.
“DepEd continues to monitor and address all concerns pertaining to the opening of senior high schools in line with the full implementation of the K-12 program,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a statement.
“The unified efforts of parents, teachers, and communities and all stakeholders will continue contribute to more effective implementation, which is essential to bringing our educational system to parity with global standards,” said Coloma. With Maricel V. Cruz, PNA
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