The education department in Bicol open its doors in the region for the conduct of early registration in all public elementary and secondary schools starting January 25th.
The exercise is a simultaneous endeavor that will commence in all school districts nationwide.
The newest scheme is aimed at gathering base information to prepare the agency in addressing potential gaps that could arise before the regular enrollment.
The specific target of the early registration are five-year-olds, six-year-olds, OSC and OSY from the disadvantaged groups, including street children aged five to 18.
It is also a stop-gap measure to reduce the dropout rate, especially between Grade 6 going to Grade 7 or first year high school, as DepEd would be able to monitor the number of graduating Grade 6 pupils who will continue in high school.
In Bicol, for school year 2012-2013, the dropout rate in the elementary level was 0.62 percent. For the same reference year the secondary level rate was 4.32 percent.
Based on the actual enrollment in the elementary last school year of 988,787, a total of 6,130 pupils left school before completion of their grade level. In secondary, 17,150 dropped out from a total enrollment of 397,002.
Student drop out revealed underlying factors that have strong influence on the phenomena.
Cause or triggers include poverty, child labor, illness, distance from home to school and transfer of residence. In the secondary level, early marriage, pregnancy and domestic problems are believed to be the primary causes.
In the elementary level, Camarines Sur posted the highest dropout rate at 0.96 percent last school year, followed by Masbate at 0.87 percent; Sorsogon City, 0.74 percent; Camarines Norte, 0.67 percent; and Naga City, 0.65 percent.
Other schools divisions in the region recorded the following dropouts: Catanduanes, 0.50 percent; Iriga City, 0.49 percent; Tabaco City, 0.39 percent; Masbate City, 0.30 percent; Legazpi City, 0.30 percent; Sorsogon, 0.27 percent; Albay, 0.13 percent; and Ligao City, 0.12 percent.
In the secondary level, Camarines Norte recorded the highest dropout rate last school year at 5.88 percent. Camarines Sur followed with 5.21 percent; Masbate, 4.66 percent; Sorsogon, 4.47 percent; and Catanduanes, 4.02 percent.
The early registration program, according to DepEd Bicol director Ramon Fiel Abcede, can provide the agency the information that will allow introduction of appropriate interventions that could lessen the rate of dropout from Grade 6 to high school.
If the graduating Grade 6 pupil fails to register during the early registration, this is already a sign that the he or she may not enroll in high school, he said.
When this happens, the secondary school head will have to check with the elementary school head the reasons for non-registration.
School officials will then have to coordinate with parents and barangay officials to ensure that school-age students are kept in school. (With PNA report by Danny O. Calleja)