Over 25.5 million have registered for the new school year, the Department of Education said Tuesday, a day after public schools resumed classes and the agency extended the enrollment period.
The figure brings the DepEd closer to meeting its target of last school year’s 26.2 million enrollees, who were the first to experience the challenges of distance and modular learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Education officials said in a congressional hearing that an estimated P33 billion is needed to provide teachers nationwide with laptops to boost the country’s distance learning program.
Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua told legislators during the DepEd 2022 budget deliberation at the House of Representatives that another P4 billion is needed for 12 months of connectivity next year to help teachers cope with the so-called new normal.
Also, the Commission on Human Rights is investigating the “alarming circumstances” surrounding the death of a grade 10 student in San Enrique, Negros Occidental, allegedly from hazing.
“CHR has always held a strong stance against hazing and its consequences,” spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“While online schooling has been the norm during the pandemic, we remind schools and higher education institutions that they remain duty-bound to uphold and protect the rights of its students, and hazing is a direct violation of their student’s right to safety, security, and a threat to their well-being,” she added.
Of the 25.5 million enrollees, 19.4 million are in public schools while 1.5 million are in private schools, DepEd data showed.
About 50,537 are enrolled in state universities and colleges or local universities and colleges that offer basic education. Over 4.5 million, meanwhile, are learners who went through early registration earlier this year.
Education officials said the total enrollment figure has yet to include those registered in the Alternative Learning System and Philippine schools overseas.
Based on the data, enrollment in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, Bangsamoro and the Cordillera Administrative Region have exceeded their 2020 turnout.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said previously this may indicate “that some learners who skipped the last school year are now re-enrolling.”
In San Enrique, initial police reports showed that the victim’s death may be due to hazing related activities as a wooden paddle was found in the house of one of the suspects.
The victim reportedly joined a fraternity in March but did not undergo initiation rites since he was still a minor.
Prior to the victim’s death, a day after his 18th birthday celebration, the victim reportedly told his parents that the suspects hit him with a paddle.
“As we investigate this incident, we call upon the Department of Education in line with their Child Protection Policy to take cognizance of this incident,” De Guia said.
“Furthermore, we urge schools, higher education institutions and the security sector to ensure proper and complete implementation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 2008 and to practice vigilance in monitoring the country’s schools and universities. We condole with the victim’s family and his loved ones,” she noted
“If we will be providing all teachers with the needed laptops considering the existence of laptops that we have now, we still need P33 billion. This amount to provide everybody with laptops, and then we need another P4 billion for data connectivity for next year for 12 months of connectivity,” Pascua said.
This developed as Education Secretary Leonor Briones reiterated the DepEd has extended the enrollment period for school year 2021-2022 to September 30.
“We expect to match last year’s performance in enrollment. Since we are expecting... it’s a traditional practice to extend enrollment... and we are extending enrollment up to the end of the month of September,” Briones told lawmakers.
The DepEd proposed a P630.8 billion budget for 2022. Of the total, P629.8 billion is allotted for the Office of the Secretary.
Pascua stressed the DepEd will be able to effectively implement its computerization program by providing teachers and students with the needed gadgets for the distance learning.
He added that Bayanihan 2 also helped in providing laptops to teaching personnel.
“Under Bayanihan 2, we will be delivering almost 40,000 laptops, under the CB 2019, which has been delivered last June, we have delivered about 211,000 laptops,” Pascua said.
“Under GCP 2020, this is already for delivery, we have about 36,676 laptops, and under GCP 2021 which is being procured right now, there are about 65,683 laptops. So, this is total of about 353,286 new laptops,” he added.
“We have allotted P700 million to procure data connectivity or satellite connectivity for last mile schools and is being procured right now, and for Bayanihan 2, we provided for the data connectivity for teachers and for personnel of DepEd,” Pascua said.