"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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Child Poverty and Basic Education

A video of a boy whose 200 pesos (about 5 US dollars) was taken away by a robber in Caloocan City, Philippines went viral on Facebook:
The boy sells pandesal (salt bread) and the 200 pesos (5 US$) were his earnings that day. Almost 1 million views and one could only imagine the emotions stirred by this video. The fact that the boy was robbed is indeed heartless. However, the fact that the boy has to work for a living at a young age should be equally disturbing. The latest data on child poverty in the Philippines can not hide the real story:



The number of families considered to be living in poverty (In the Philippines, a family living in poverty earns less than 200 pesos (5 US Dollars) per day) has been continuously increasing during the past two decades. There are now more than 4 million families living in poverty. Most of these families have young children.

Above copied from Child Poverty in the Philippines by Celia Reyes, Aubrey Tabuga, Ronina Asisand Maria Blesila Mondez


The numbers are staggering:

  • 13.4 million children (age 18 or younger) are poor.
  • 4 million children do not have access to sanitary toilet facilities.
  • 4 million children do not have access to safe water.
  • 260,000 children severely lacks shelter
  • 1.4 million children are living in informal settlement.
  • 6.5 million children do not have electricity in their homes.
  • 3.4 million children have no access to any information.
  • 5.5 million children are forced to work.

It is therefore not surprising that dropout rates remain very high as families could hardly afford to keep their children in school. The fact that basic education is free does not guarantee that children would be sent to school since schooling still requires allowances, clothing, and learning materials. Dropout rates have increased especially for male students at the secondary level.

Above copied from Child Poverty in the Philippines by Celia Reyes, Aubrey Tabuga, Ronina Asisand Maria Blesila Mondez

The sad part is that children who drop out of school do not necessarily get favorable employment. The figures below for example show that the number of children working is much less than the number of children who are not attending school:

Above copied from Child Poverty in the Philippines by Celia Reyes, Aubrey Tabuga, Ronina Asisand Maria Blesila Mondez
K-12 without doubt adds a tremendous burden on poor families. It challenges families who can not keep their children in school. There is no point in adding two years when children are leaving school starting at age 13. Poverty simply crushes basic education. Society must address poverty first...



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