(From left to right) DepEd Palawan legal officer Atty. Joshua Abrina, SDS Roger Capa, OIC Asst. SDS Rufino Foz, Division information officer Maylyn Dilig share updates with the current enrollment status during Kapihan sa Media on Wednesday at SM Palawan

Local education authorities have observed a rise in enrollment in 2021 above the previous year’s record due to “parental confidence” in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) delivery of learning modalities in coronavirus pandemic time. 

The Schools Division Office (SDO) in the province headed by Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) Roger Capa said although registration is still open until September 13, around 100,027 kinder to Grade 12 learners had already signed up for School Year 2021-2022 in private and public schools as of August 25.

Due to a noticeable trend in formal basic education enrollment data, Capa believes this figure will grow more in the following days. The enrollment started on August 16.

“Inaasahan natin ngayon na sa trend na aming nakikita ay mukhang tataas pa ang porsyento ng mga [mag-e]-enroll na mga bata sa ating mga paaralan,” Capa said during a Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-hosted Kapihan on Wednesday, August 25. 

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“Siguro nandoon ang tiwala nila sa DepEd na kaya natin ipagpatuloy ang edukasyon kahit sa gitna ng pandemya. Dahil ginagawaan naman nang paraan ng DepEd, ng ating mga opisyal, ng ating mga guro na maibigay ang pangangailangan kahit kulang tayo sa pondo. Gaya ng pag-print ng modules, paghahatid sa kanila, pagbibigay natin ng tablets, nakikita naman ng ating mga magulang [ang pagsisikap],” he added.

Last year, the number of enrollees for SY 2020-2021 was 256, 547.

OIC-Assistant Schools Division Superintendent (ASDS) Rufino Foz also said the number of enrollees are expected to rise even higher since parents are used to enrolling their children even a few days before the start of school.

“Mas marami pa kasi ang magpapa-enroll kapag malapit na, tradisyon na ‘yan sa ating parents. Kapag malapit na ang enrollment ay doon sila magra-rush. Rush hour sa kanila ‘yong two days before the opening of classes kaya tataas yan,” he said during the Kapihan with local media on Wednesday.

Decrease in kindergarten enrollees
Senior Education Program Specialist for Social Mobilization and Networking Maylyn Dilig stated that if there was a drop in enrollment, it was observed in kindergarten.

“Base sa early enrollment, nagkaroon ng medyo slight na decrease sa kindergarten. Iyon ay understandable naman dahil ang mga magulang natin ay medyo nagkaroon sila ng agam-agam kung ipagpapatuloy pa nila ang pagpapaaral sa kanilang mga anak. Pero sa ngayon, base sa trend ay na-resolve na ‘yon, increasing,” she said.

Preparation for academic year
Apart from the yearly Brigada Eskwela, Capa stated that one of the DepEd’s preparations in the province is the employment of several teaching modalities.

He said they will digitize the learning of around 80 percent of senior high school students through the distribution of 24,000 tablets from the Palawan provincial government.

“Hindi lang module para makatulong tayo sa kalikasan, gagamit din tayo ng online, gagamit tayo ng radio-based instruction at mamamahagi tayo ng tablets from provincial government at provincial DepEd sa 80% ng ating senior high school sa buong Palawan upang magamit nila sa online. Puwede itong sa digitized learning kahit walang signal, ilalagay lang sa USB o tablet para makabawas sa pag-print ng module,” he said.

The blended learning scheme, which is a mix of various modalities, is the most successful modality, according to the SDO’s evaluation.

“Iyon ang pinaka-epektibo sa tingin namin at base rin sa reports ng schools ay blended learning modality. Kapag sinabing blended ay combination ‘yan ng dalawa o higit pa na modality,” Capa explained.

Capa claims that the schools division in Palawan leads the region in terms of releasing teacher wages and benefits, as well as reclassifying items and teacher promotions.

DepEd Palawan has 75 new senior high school items, 12 new junior high school items, and natural vacancies left by those who moved to other divisions, were promoted, or deceased. There are other items that have not been filled since the previous administration took over last year.

Probationary teachers who have been on the job for five years and have not yet completed the licensing test will be replaced straight away. SDS may only reappoint them if their majors are distinct from those of others, said Foz.

“Medyo nagkukumahog kami ngayon, binigyan kami ng instruction ni sir na makalabas na dapat ang RQA para makapag-hire na tayo ng additional teachers. Marami tayong vacant positions, especially sa ating senior high school. Meron tayong 75 na bago, a total of almost 138 vacant items ng senior high school na paglalagyan ng mga guro,” Foz said.

Assessment of previous school year
The SDO said that COVID-19 surprised everyone, and teachers were unfamiliar with many modalities.

However, Capa said that a year into the pandemic, the teachers have already adjusted into the new normal in education.

“Binigla tayo ng pandemya, hindi tayo nakapaghanda. Naging bago pa nga at nangapa pa last year ang ating modules, ang iba-ibang modality. Nangapa ang ating mga guro, hindi nila alam kung ano halos ang gagawin kahit ang pag-attend ng virtual meeting—‘yong transition sa new normal ay nakapag-adjust na ang ating mga guro,” Capa said.

He added that the general average of the students in Palawan is above the national target of 75 percent.

“Sa darating na pasukan ay nakapag-adjust na. Natuto na tayo sa mga pagkukulang at pagkakamali noong nakaraang panuruan. Lalo pa lumakas ang suporta ng ating stakeholders dahil gumaganda na ang relasyon ng DepEd at stakeholders,” Capa said.

The assessment of the students’ performance and activities last year are also based on the rubrics of portfolio assessment in time of the pandemic, Foz said.

“Ang target kasi natin ay to help the child, hindi dapat sila mabagsak. We are on the education for all, no one will be left behind,” he said.

However, Foz admitted that the face-to-face setup is incomparable to the current learning scheme.

“But we assure you, na naibibigay namin ang basic information at basic needs ng bata na matuto sila magbilang, matutong magsulat at matutuong magbasa. Iyon ay pinaka-importante—meron tayong late learners at meron din advance kaya medyo hindi natin talaga siya pwede ma-compare as of the face-to-face modality,” he said.

Capa mentioned that during new normal, DepEd is teaching the most essential learning competencies (MELS) that must be learned by students per grade level.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.