Fewer students enroll in Boracay schools amid closure
AKLAN, Philippines – Fewer students attended the first day of school in Boracay on Monday, June 4, because of the 6-month closure of the tourist hot spot.
In Balabag Elementary School, one of the 6 public schools on the island, only around 1,300 students enrolled this year, from 1,700 in 2017.
School principal Sajid Pelayo said parents of around 300 students had already signified their intent to transfer schools due to the 6-month closure order.
Pelayo said they were expecting students from private schools, who could no longer afford the tuition, to transfer to public schools. Their school, however, still turned out lacking in enrollees.
Still, when Boracay reopens to the public, the principal said they still expect some students to re-enroll in Balabag Elementary School.
Pelayo said parents should still enroll their children in public schools despite Boracay's closure. He also said that school supplies had already been donated for students to use.
"Ngayon, kung baon lang ang problema, magagawan naman 'yan ng paraan ng magulang. Hindi dahilan 'yung kahirapan lalo na sa education. Satin sa school, very considerate tayo sa ganyan," he said. (Now, if the allowance is the problem, the parents can find a way. Poverty is not an excuse especially when it comes to education. In this school, we are very considerate.)
The Department of Education's Office of Assistant Schools Division Superintendent (ASDS) in Aklan told Rappler that school heads had initially reported a decrease in number of students in their respective schools.
But official enrollment turnout for Boracay schools will be finalized over the course of the week. Some parents are still enrolling, they said.
Neneng Fernandez, 38, was able to enroll 4 of her 7 children in school this June, thanks to government aid. But two of them – one in elementary and one in kindergarten – had to stop schooling in the meantime.
Fernandez availed of the Department of Social Welfare and Development educational assistance, and had worked for the emergency work program of the Department of Labor and Employment.
The social welfare department had already provided P910,000 worth of educational assistance to 456 Boracay residents as of May 25.
"Naibigay para sa mga bata na P3,000 na student assistance. Eksakto lang para makakuha ka ng pambili ng uniform at school supplies," Fernandez told Rappler. (We were given P3,000 worth of student assistance for my children. It's only enough to buy uniform and school supplies.)
"Pero yung pang sa Monday na pambaon ng mga bata araw-araw, 'yun ang problema," she added. (But their everyday pocket money starting Monday, that would be the problem.)
Fernandez used to be a masseuse at a major hotel near her home in Balabag village. She used to earn around P1,000 to P1,500 per day.
Now, she had to budget her small earning of P323 for 30 days when she worked for DOLE.
In the meantime, Fernandez said she would borrow money and ask her children to walk going to school. She hopes that additional expenses for school projects would come when she has money to spend.
"Wala talaga eh. Tiis-tiis lang muna," she said. (We have nothing. We really have to endure.)
Starting April 26, Boracay Island was closed to tourists due to environmental problems. President Rodrigo Duterte placed 3 villages under state of calamity – Manoc-Manoc, Balabag, and Yapak – to fast-track rehabilitation in the island. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte decided on Boracay closure)