Low enrolment turnout worries child rights group

Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns raised alarm over low enrollment turnout barely a week before the scheduled school opening. According to the DepEd report, only 17.9 million learners have so far enrolled for the school year 2021 – 2022.

“The current enrollees is only equivalent to 68% of the total number of students for the SY 2020-2021. Its even far lower compared to the national enrolment data before the pandemic,” said Salinlahi secretary general Eule Rico Bonganay.

The figures, according to Bonganay, signal the worsening situation of the Philippine education system. “The overwhelming failure of the government in implementing effective education program discourages millions of students from continuing their education. It threatens to reverse the gains that the country has achieved in terms of ensuring that basic education is accessible for every Filipino child,” Bonganay added.

With the growing poverty and hunger incidence coupled with the limited government support, millions of learners are struggling to meet the financial requirements in DepEd’s blended learning program.  “Poor families cannot even provide decent food on their tables. So, it’s even harder for them to secure smartphones and internet connection for their children’s online classes. On the other hand, parents are complaining over the glaring problems in self-learning modules. Worse, students are lagging behind the supposed competencies that they should have acquired,” Bonganay emphasized.

“Students and parents are gradually losing confidence in the government’s capacity and willingness to implement effective and appropriate education program. Without concrete solutions and changes in its framework and approaches, students will continue to suffer from the grave learning loss and deprivation of their inviolable right to education,” he said.

Salinlahi expressed support to the various education stakeholders in issuing the 5-point demand to the Duterte government:

  1. Roll out a clear plan for the immediate safe conduct of limited and voluntary in-classroom learning in zero-case and low-risk areas. Provide a roadmap to the eventual safe reopening of schools across the country
  2. Provide the needed teaching and learning resources for distance learning
  3. Ensure the provision of health protection and payment of just benefits to education workers
  4. Allocate higher budget to education in 2022
  5. Implement genuine academic ease

Salinlahi also launched a petition in various communities to gather the signatures in support for the Ligtas na Balik Paaralan campaign to demand the government to implement a safe, equitable, quality and relevant education.

“Moreover, the government must include the issues and concerns of Filipino children in the overall pandemic response. The government must ensure that basic social services including health and education are accessible to Filipino children. At the same time, it should address poverty and hunger by securing livelihood and job opportunities for their parents,” Bonganay ended. ###