"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out-of-School Children in the Philippines

A significant fraction of Filipino children are currently not in school. Moreover, additional numbers are at great risk of dropping out of school. Meeting the goal of "education for all" obviously requires paying attention to out-of-school children, specifically, the underlying reasons why children are not entering school or dropping out before graduation at the secondary level. Jose Ramon G. Albert, Francis Mark A. Quimba, Andre Philippe E. Ramos, and Jocelyn P. Almeda of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) have provided useful insights regarding this challenge in their paper entitled, "Profile of Out-of-School Children in the Philippines". This is quite a lengthy report. It also highlights inconsistencies between different surveys. However, it is still possible to draw significant correlations that can guide future policies or reforms on education. For this purpose, I would like to focus on the following findings of the PIDS paper:

First, there is a correlation between child labor and the adjusted net attendance rate:

Downloaded from "Profile of Out-of-School Children in the Philippines"
The table shows that at the secondary level, children engaged in labor are more likely to be not attending school. More importantly, there is a dramatic difference between genders at this stage. Less than a third of boys engaged in work are attending secondary school.

Second, children who are leaving school are predominantly poor:

Downloaded from "Profile of Out-of-School Children in the Philippines"
This disparity is quite dramatic at the primary level. At the secondary level, school dropouts from the lower-middle and middle classes (Second and Third Quintiles) have risen significantly, such that when combined these now outnumber the dropouts from the poorest class. Of course, it is important to examine further what the income levels really are that define these quintiles. Nearly ninety percent of the Philippine population can be considered belonging to the D and E social classes. These two social classes therefore encompass the poorest through the fourth quintile in the above figures. This is quite illuminating. At the secondary level, the opportunity for children to earn is higher than at the primary level. In addition, costs even in public schools for secondary education are becoming prohibitive for the poor. 

Third, the number of out-of-school children in the Philippines is correlated with the educational attainment of the mother:

Downloaded from "Profile of Out-of-School Children in the Philippines"
In fact, combining poverty and a mother's educational attainment reveals how important these two factors are in school dropouts:

Downloaded from "Profile of Out-of-School Children in the Philippines"
For "education for all" to succeed, acknowledgement of the above factors is crucial. Reforms must be designed with the above factors in mind. Otherwise, we might just be drawing "fantasy plans".



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