Parents asked to enrol kids during school opening delay

THE deferment of the start of the academic calendar augurs well for families who up to now have been unable to enroll their children in school due to difficulties associated with the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, the chairman of the House committee on basic education and culture said on Sunday.

“We would encourage parents to take advantage of the six-week delay in the start of the academic year to enlist their children in school, if they haven’t already done so,” Pasig City Rep. Romulo Romulo, the panel chairman, said.

“We would also encourage schools to find ways to accommodate all late enrollees, so that we lessen the number of children at-risk of falling behind in their learning,” Romulo said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) had earlier cited “an extraordinary school non-participation rate” due to the COVID-19 crisis, with some four million learners failing to enroll for the coming academic year.

This was before the DepEd moved the start of the school year from August 24 to October 5.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told a Senate hearing last week that of the four million learners who were unable to enlist, some 2.75 million used to go to private schools while 1.25 million previously attended public schools.

As of August 11, over 23 million learners had enrolled in public and private kindergarten, elementary and high schools for the academic year 2020-2021, according to Malaluan.

The 23 million represents around 83.1 percent of the 27.7 million students enrolled in academic year 2019-2020, Malaluan said.

Meanwhile, Romulo said the revised school calendar would help the government “buy more time to flatten the curve of COVID-19.”

“We are also counting on the DepEd to use the rescheduling to further improve the school system’s overall readiness in administering the shift to blended remote learning,” Romulo said.

“In fact, the DepEd should review the curriculum it has prepared to ensure its suitability to the new methods of studying,” Romulo said.

“For example, from kindergarten to Grade 3, we want the curriculum to focus on arming learners with three core competencies – in reading, writing and basic math, plus Good Manners and Right Conduct,” Romulo said.

“We should avoid overloading early learners with too many subjects at the expense of core competencies,” Romulo said.

The Program for International Student Assessment has ranked the Philippines the poorest among 79 countries in terms of reading comprehension skills that are crucially important to enhance all future learning, Romulo pointed out.