Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, on Wednesday, asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to address the 2.3 million students who are not enrolled two weeks before the school year opens on October 5.
Gatchalian, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said DepEd should look into the issue as it could lead to permanent school dropouts.
“We consider this 2.3 million as dropouts. What we do not want to happen is to have permanent dislocation of children. Instead of studying, they would just permanently go to work,” he said.
“My point of the matter there, Undersecretary Nepo(muceno Malaluan) is we have to address that 2.3 million missing students,” he added.
DepEd Undersecretary Jess Mateo said the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the department could facilitate concerned students.
He added that enrollment in public schools is still ongoing. However, he noted that parents still have the last say on whether the student would enroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian also called DepEd’s attention regarding the 30 percent drop of enrolment in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
2.3 million students not yet enrolled – Gatchalian
DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan explained the decrease in enrollment was due to the economic impact brought by the pandemic.
However, Senator Nancy Binay urged DepEd to study the real factors that caused the drop of enrollment in BARMM because the region only has a low number of COVID-19 cases.
Binay agreed with Gatchalian that the decrease in BARMM’s enrollment is alarming.
“Pag-aralan din ng DepEd kung ano talaga ‘yung tunay na dahilan kung bakit ganun kalaki. I don’t think it could be dahil sa COVID. Alam naman natin na hindi katulad sa NCR ‘yung case ng BARMM,” Binay said.
Education Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Service Tonisito Umali earlier said that over 24 million students already enrolled for the school year 2020-2021.
As of September 15, the Philippines recorded 57,392 active cases of COVID-19, with 207, 352 recoveries, and 4,663 deaths.