The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the non-participation of four million learners in basic education this school year, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Thursday.
"Ang malaking reduction sa enrollment are those who go to private schools and mga anak ng OFWs, etc. at saka sa Alternative Learning System because these are workers," Briones said during a Palace briefing.
"Itong mga workers, umuuwi sa probinsya eh kung dito sila sa Maynila nag-a-ALS o kung saang lugar umuuwi sila sa pribinsya, hindi pa nila alam na mayroong mga ALS doon where they are," she added.
Based on the DepEd data presented during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, there were over 23 million learners from Kindergarten to Grade 12 who enrolled for School Year 2020-2021 as of August 11.
Of these, 21.4 million enrolled in public schools, only 1.5 million in private schools, and more than 333,000 in the alternative learning system.
The enrollment turnout in ALS was only 45% compared to last year, while the headcount in private schools was only 36.1% of what it was before.
Aside from the economic crisis, Briones said many learners and parents had also been confused about the opening of classes, despite DepEd's repeated announcement that it will start on August 24.
"Mayroong a little bit of confusion so we are stepping up our communication and information [campaign]," she said.
Nonetheless, DepEd said it was still able to surpass the target of 80% of last years' enrollment turnout.
Briones stood firm that classes will open using blended forms of learning on August 24 despite some senators' call for deferment in areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine. — BM, GMA News