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Sara Did Not Blame Rallies For 2-M Drop In Enrollment

Sara Did Not Blame Rallies For 2-M Drop In Enrollment


The Department of Education (DepEd) clarified on Saturday, Sept. 16, that Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte never blamed rallies as the reason for the drop in enrollment of students for this school year.

The DepEd was responding to an article published by The Philippine STAR and OneNews.PH on Sept. 14 with the title “Sara Blames Rallies For 2-M Drop In Enrollment.” OneNews.PH already took down the article as well as the follow-up story titled: “DepEd, Not Rallies, To Blame For Low Enrollment – ACT.”

“A perusal of the Vice President and Secretary of Education’s entire speech, delivered at the Peace Village on 11 September 2023, would show that at no point did she allude to rallies as being the reason for the alleged drop in enrollment,” the DepEd's statement read.

The article was quoting Duterte in her keynote speech delivered at the opening of the three-day Peace Village Exhibit at SM City Davao on Sept. 11.

In her speech, Duterte slammed ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro for supposedly questioning her over the drop in enrollment figure.

“And then France Castro would say, ‘Look, the DepEd is short of two million in enrollment. Ask Inday Sara where the enrollment is,’ ” Duterte said in Filipino.

Duterte said Castro should not be asking her that question as she “did not kidnap” those kids.

“She’s looking for those two million students from me as if I kidnapped all of them and I don’t want them to study,” Duterte said.

“Take note, I am not the one who has a kidnapping case. I am not the one who has a human trafficking case,” Duterte added.

Duterte was apparently alluding to cases filed against Castro, former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo and 16 other individuals who, during a National Solidarity Mission, transported 14 minors on Nov. 28, 2018 from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to “rescue” them from harassment by the paramilitary group Alamara and the military.

“France Castro plucked the children from Talaingod to bring to Manila and hold a rally,” Duterte said.

The parents of the minors, who were students of the Salugpongan Community Learning Center, a school for Lumads, had earlier denied that their children were kidnapped by the National Solidarity Mission.

In a statement issued on Sept. 14, the ACT maintained that there is nothing wrong with questioning the DepEd over the drop in enrollment.

“There’s nothing wrong in questioning and holding DepEd accountable for the two million drop in enrollment. It is the Department’s responsibility to ensure that no student is left behind. Why is Sara Duterte so allergic to questions?” ACT chairman Vladimer Quetua said in a statement.

The DepEd should look into the root causes of the education sector’s problems that left students unable to go back to school this year, such as financial problems that households face due to the country’s economic problems, Quetua added.

Still premature 

The DepEd also said it is still premature to conclude that there is about two million-drop in the number of students enrolled for this school year, pointing out that the figure can still go up in the coming days.

“For the information of the public, an accurate determination as to whether enrollment numbers have dropped compared to previous years cannot be made at this time. This is due to the fact that the encoding of learners in our Learners Information System is still ongoing,” the DepEd said in the statement issued on Saturday.

The third week of classes ended on Friday, Sept. 8, with 26.9 million officially enrolled students in elementary and high school, still below the DepEd's target of 28.8 million students for school year 2023 to 2024.

“DepEd will consistently provide the public with regular updates on enrollment figures as they continue to increase, and announce the total number of enrollees for SY 2023-2024 once the encoding period closes on 30 October 2023,” the DepEd's statement read.

As of 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept.15, the DepEd reported a total of 26,895,079 students enrolled in public and private kindergarten, elementary and high schools, as well as in Philippine schools overseas and under the Alternative Learning System (ALS).

Region 4-A tallied the most number of enrolled students at 3,909,872 followed by Region 3 at 2,955,216 and Metro Manila at 2,777,408.

Also have high number of enrollees were Region 7 with 2,079,140, Region 6 with 1,996,231, Region 5 with 1,703,645 and Region 11 with 1,353,504.

A total of 330,216 students signed up under the ALS while 18,466 enrolled in Philippine schools overseas.

The DepEd had earlier said that schools will be accepting enrollees until the end of September.

A total of 28.4 million students were enrolled in public and private schools in SY 2022 to 2023.