"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, March 29, 2016

Why Do Boys from Poor Families Drop Out of School?

What do the states of Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alabama share in common? These states are among the most unequal in terms of household income. The poor are so poor while the wealthy are so wealthy. These states are also marked with low intergenerational income mobility. The poor stays poor and the rich stays rich. But these states apparently share one more thing. The percentage of boys not finishing high school in four years are among the highest in these states across America.

Analyzing the data on graduation rates, income inequality, and intergenerational income persistence, Kearney and Levine have arrived at the conclusion that boys who did not finish high school in four years mostly have given up hope. They conclude:
Our analysis has demonstrated that a greater persistent gap between the bottom of the income distribution and the middle leads to lower rates of high school completion among economically disadvantaged youth, boys in particular. These findings have implications for the potential of disadvantaged youth to achieve upward mobility and the types of policies that are likely to be successful. Furthermore, they reflect a plausible channel through which higher rates of income inequality might causally lead to lower rates of social mobility. To improve rates of upward mobility, we need to give economically disadvantaged youth reasons to believe that they can achieve economic success. 
Across the Pacific is the Philippines, where both income inequality and social mobility leave so much to be desired. Boys are clearly dropping out of school more than girls do.

Data from Annual Poverty Indicator Survey 2013 and DepEd, Philippines

It is with these in mind that one should examine DepEd's K to 12 curriculum. Would the new curriculum provide hope to boys who feel "economic despair"? Would adding two years of senior high school help keep boys from poor families stay in school? The study by Kearney and Levine shows that this is a matter of perception. Poor boys do not drop out of school because school appears to be very difficult. They stop schooling because they do not see that it is worth investing in themselves. This perception can be easily fed by low quality education. This perception can be heightened by lack of resources. There are not even enough schools that can provide the additional years of DepEd's K to 12 so the government has to resort to issuing vouchers that hardly meet the tuition and fees demanded by private institutions. DepEd's K to 12 simply does not provide the youth reasons to believe that they could have a better life in the future. What these boys need are genuine opportunities, and good counselors and mentors.

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