Enrollment in private schools 'alarmingly low' – group

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) said on Friday, July 24, the enrollment in private schools for 2020-2021 is "alarmingly low," representing only a fourth of the number the past year.

As of July 24, a total of 1,259,076 private school students have signed up for the school opening on August 24 – just 25% of last year's 4.4 million students, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

"Talagang alarmingly low ang turnout ng ating enrollment, considering na late na nga tayo nagsimula," Joseph Noel Estrada, managing director Cocopea, said in a Rappler Talk interview on Friday. (The turnout is really alarmingly low, considering that we already started [the enrollment] late.)

"Magkakaiba lang ng dates pero within the same period ang enrollment ng mga estudyante sa amin. It’s really very low (We'll be opening on different dates, but the enrollment period is the same. It’s really very low)," Estrada added.

In a survey conducted by Cocopea in April, more than 500 of its 2,500 member schools participated. At the time, according to Estrada, around 400 or 80% of the respondent schools said they might close down during the pandemic.

"Tinanong namin sila hanggang kailan kakayanin ng inyong resource with the current situation. Eighty percent doon sa natanong...ang nagsabi na only up to the end of August na lang," Estrada said.

(We asked them how long they could sustain operations given their resources and with the current situation. Eighty percent of those we asked...said that only until the end of August.)

Cocopea has not conducted another survey among members.

Estrada said the number one reason for the low enrollment is the financial constraints of families, whose livelihood have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Marami ang nawalan ng trabaho. Maraming nawalan ng negosyo. I think marami rin siyempre ang gumastos diyan about their health. So talagang affected sila," Estrada said.

(Many [parents] lost their jobs. Many lost their businesses. I think many spent so much on their health [concerns]. They are really affected.)

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, unemployment in the country soared to 17.7% in April 2020, equivalent to around 7.3 million jobless Filipinos, amid the pandemic.

Where are the other private school students?

Estrada said some private school students had transferred to public schools, while others have probably not enrolled yet.

"Ang tanong mo na nasaan na 'yung mga hindi pag nag-e-enroll, karamihan hindi pa nag-e-enroll. Pero it’s also alarming to know na nasa around 300,000 ay lilipat or lumipat na sa public schools," Estrada said.

(Your question was, where are the students? Most of them haven't enrolled yet, but it's alarming to know that around 300,000 are transferring or had transferredto public schools. So that's either, they have not enrolled yet or they transferred.)

Based on the latest data from the Department of Education (DepEd), a total of 305,402 private school students had transferred to public schools.

Estrada said the numbers may change once DepEd receives the complete enrollment data from all other private schools.

According to previous reports on DepEd's data, there were more than 15,000 private schools in the Philippines as of 2013. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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