opening of classes

IN NUMBERS: School opening during a pandemic

Bonz Magsambol

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IN NUMBERS: School opening during a pandemic

Parents of incoming students receive books during distribution of learning modules at the Commonwealth Elementary in Quezon City on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, four days before the start of school year 2020-2021.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Here are important numbers relevant to the highly debated school opening during the pandemic

On Monday, October 5, over 24 million public and private schools students are returning to attend classes. But due to the persistent coronavirus pandemic, the opening this time is different as campuses stay closed and face-to-face lessons remain suspended. (READ: What will the PH’s first day of school look like in a pandemic?)

Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for schools to delay face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, the Department of Education (DepEd) has shifted to distance learning. (READ: (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning)

Distance learning is when teachers and students are geographically remote from each other during classes. This means lessons are delivered outside the traditional face-to-face setup, through a mix of modular learning, online learning, and TV and radio broadcasts.

The opening of classes had already been delayed twice to allow schools, teachers, students, and parents to prepare for the demands of distance learning. But various issues continue to hound the preparations for the school year. (READ: Back to school during a pandemic: Issues that need to be solved before October 5)

What are the important numbers relevant to the highly debated school opening in the country?

22.5 million public school students in 61,923 public schools

Enrollment in public schools this year is at 99.79% compared to students enrolled last school year.

2.2 million private school students

Private schools registered a lower 50.48% enrollment rate compared to 2019. Education Secretary Leonor Briones attributed this to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. (READ: Enrollment in private schools ‘alarmingly low’ – group)

865 private schools suspend operations

Besides a low enrollment turnout, many private schools were unable to meet the requirements of learning management systems for the conduct of distance learning this year, resulting in suspended operations.

864,448 public school teachers 217,386 private school teachers

Based on the DepEd’s 2019 data, there are supposed to be about 263,430 teaching-related positions in the private sector. DepEd has yet to confirm if the lower number of private school teachers was caused by the suspension of schools’ operations.

667.7 million printed learning modules

Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobeo said that DepEd had printed a total of 667,673,924 learning modules for the first quarter only. (READ: Briones says modular learning ‘expensive,’ has ‘big effect’ on environment)

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that almost 13 million public school students or 59% of over 22 million enrollees this year will be using printed modules. That would require felling an enormous number of trees to produce paper.

93.6 billion pages of learning modules

Senator Ralph Recto, an economist, estimated that 93.6 billion pages of learning modules for millions of public school students will be needed just for one full academic year.

In a virtual press briefing on September 21, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that students might have to share modules by 2021 because there aren’t enough funds to reproduce learning materials. (READ: Students might have to share modules next year due to lack of funding – DepEd)

The idea of sharing modules, however, raised concerns about spreading the coronavirus. (READ: Is it safe? Teachers fear exposure to coronavirus in modular learning setup)

130 TV/radio episodes per week

DepEd is eyeing to broadcast 130 lecture episodes on television and radio per week to aid students in distance learning. DepEd Director Abram Abanil said that each lecture episode will last around 20 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between.

DepEd has partnered with TV channels for the airing of the educational shows. These include IBC 13, PTV4, Solar TV, Planet Cable, the Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association, and Cignal TV, among others.

P35 billion for printing learning modules

Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that according to DepEd estimates, P35 billion is needed for the printing of learning modules for millions of public school students for the remaining quarters of the school year. There are 4 grading quarters in one school year.

Only P15 billion has been allocated under the proposed budget of DepEd for 2021. Sevilla said P5 billion will come from unprogrammed funds, while the rest will be sourced from the Special Education Fund (SEF) and Brigada Eskwela.

In the proposed 2021 budget, lawmakers sought an additional P10 billion for DepEd to fund the printing of learning modules. The remaining balance of P5 billion will be sourced from the Special Education Fund (SEF) and schools’ Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses.

The SEF, which comes from tax collected by the local government unit, funds the supplementary annual budgetary needs of public schools within a province, city, or municipality.

P606.5-billion budget for DepEd

The government has allocated P606.5 billion of its proposed 2021 P4.5-trillion budget for DepEd. (READ: Proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget goes to Congress)

While the education sector is set to receive the lion’s share of funds, several groups believe the amount is still insufficient to cover the needs of the education sector under an overhauled education system. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Why you should be alarmed by Duterte’s 2021 budget) –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.