MANILA – In the coming school year, more than 1.3 million children in the Philippines will remain out of school, according to the latest report of London-based child aid agency Save The Children.
This number, however, is far less compared to 20 years ago where 1 in 6 or 2.9 million children were out of school. Now, that figure has dropped to 1 in 16.
“After almost two decades of no progress, the Philippines cut the share of children out of school by about 60 percent in just the last 10 years,” read part of Save the Children's Global Childhood Report 2019.
The report evaluates 176 countries based on children’s access to healthcare, education, nutrition, and protection from harmful practices like child labor and child marriage.
In the ranking, the Philippines moved up to 102nd place, two notches from 104th place in 2018.
The report cited the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “intense and continuous” campaigns to bring children to school.
“[DepEd] has incentivized school attendance with feeding programs and cash transfers based on school attendance. DepEd has also piloted a wide range of alternative schooling models to offer flexibility for students’ differing circumstances and address the specific needs of learners,” it said.
Girls gained from the progress. The out-of-school rate for school-aged girls has fallen by 69 percent since 1999, compared to 55 percent for boys. This means, however, that boys are now much more likely to be out of school than girls, especially older ones.
“The access to education has improved that’s why our enrollment has also improved,” Alberto Muyot, who heads Save The Children’s office in Manila, told ABS-CBN News.
But much needs to be done, he added.
“1.3 million is 1.3 million. So 1.3 million is too many because all children should be in school,” Muyot, a former DepEd official, said.
“I think what the government is doing is to address the issue of quality. But of course, to provide quality education, there should be enough school buildings and teachers – doon nahuhuli ang gobyerno (The government is missing that).”
Muyot is also pushing for effective implementation of inclusive education, which will welcome and support all students whoever they are and whatever their abilities or requirements. This means making sure that the teaching method, curriculum, and school facilities are appropriate for all children at all levels.
Based on separate data from DepEd, there are over 27.8 million projected enrollees in all levels in 2019. This is a slight increase of 2.95 percent from last year’s 27.2 million.
DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali said there was an early registration from January to February to ensure that all new entrants would be registered for the next school year and the department would be able to address and prepare for possible issues and concerns during enrollment.
The early registration located, identified and registered out-of-school children and youth in the community who may be living in an off-grid or far-flung community, a village without a school, or a geographically isolated area; displaced due to natural disaster; living in an armed conflict area or area with high level of criminality or drug abuse; living with disability; having chronic illness or nutritional problems; victim of child abuse or economic exploitation; stateless or undocumented; in conflict with the law; living on the streets; or no longer in school.
“Inaasahan natin na magiging maayos ang unang araw ng pasukan sa June 3 sa ating pampublikong paaralan (We expect that the first day of classes on June 3 will be orderly.),” Umali said.
“We should also look at our schools. Our department made some massive works to erase perceptions about poor facilities in public schools.”