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Enrollment data shows poor rural students will be left behind, teachers’ group says

A teachers’ group has raised concerns on the low turnout of online enrollment in 14 regions, saying it shows millions of poor children in provinces will likely be left behind when the class resumes.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said about half of the 6.4 million enrollees came from only three largely urbanized regions with better access to remote enrollment.

“Meanwhile, the low turnout in the remaining 14 regions… tells of the ‘severely limited’ access in these areas where ‘economic conditions are harsher’,” the group said in a Monday statement.

Based on DepEd’s data, CALABARZON has the largest number of enrollees with 1,283,358, followed by the National Capital Region (895,406) and  Central Luzon (772,035), as of Monday.

Meanwhile, the Cordillera Administrative Region registered the smallest number of enrollees with 38,853.

“The enrollment data DepEd brags about reveals an alarming reality—constituents in poorer and more remote rural areas have little to no access to remote modalities, indicating that millions of poor children in provinces will likely be left behind if classes will officially resume through distance learning,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

For Basilio, those with gadgets and internet connection will be able to partake in the resumption of class while poor children will be denied access to education.

ACT pointed out the ‘inaccurate representation’ of alternative modes from DepEd, which the group only considered as supplemental for face-to-face learning.

The group added that, even the printed module approach, will limit teachers’ monitoring and intervention.

“Availability is senseless without accessibility and quality. The new modalities can’t wholly replace face-to-face learning, especially given the country’s technological backwardness and widespread poverty,” Basilio said.

“The government shall endeavor in addressing the biggest roadblocks to classroom learning—the threat of COVID-19, the unsafe conditions of our schools, and the quality of education,” he added.

Basilio also highlighted that the government is primarily responsible to provide the resources—not teachers nor parents.

The group slammed DepEd’s ‘myopic approach’ to education and insensitivity to the realities of Filipino families, as they challenged the department and President Rodrigo Duterte to make a comprehensive response to the needs of Filipinos amid the pandemic.

“Education cannot be detached from the health and socio-economic aspects of learners and education workers. Hence, we stand by our demands for the entire government to effectively combat COVID-19, ensure school safety, and protect people’s rights,” Basilio said.—AOL, GMA News