"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

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Students Need to Attend School Daily to Succeed"

When a student is not in school, formal education simply can not happen. Worse, when a teacher is absent, an entire class misses one school day. Outgoing secretary of education in the Philippines, Armin Luistro brags that this year is the "best class opening thus far". This statement ironically comes with an admission that around 200,000 to 400,000 students are possibly dropping out of high school this year. Roy, a seven year old, has his photo holding a "Junk K to 12" sign posted on Facebook. Roy has never stepped into a school. Einstein Recedes, who posted Roy's photo, states a sad realization that he may just be a product of an educational system that places profit above service.

Above photo copied from Einstein Recedes' Facebook page
Sarah Eliago shares a different story. Also on a Facebook post, a photo of Senior High School students sitting on the ground is displayed with the caption, "There maybe Senior High School, but there is no teacher to teach".

Above photo copied from Sarah Eliago's Facebook page

Eliago also notes on another post that in the high school near the headquarters of the Philippines legislature, only 680 slots are available for senior high school, obviously short of the expected 2000 incoming students and yet, only 89 have enrolled.

In the United States, its Department of Education just released new data on absenteeism. The following chart shows that in some states, chronic absenteeism (defined as missing school for at least three weeks) has reached 20 percent.

Above copied from The Detroit News
20 percent is indeed alarming. In the Philippines, out of 1.3 million incoming senior high school students, DepEd reports that only 530,000 have enrolled. That is less than fifty percent. Perhaps, the data on enrollment are coming in late, but there is no doubt that a large fraction are not returning to school.

"Students Need to Attend School Daily to Succeed", this is what the report, "The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools", from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University says:
Missing school matters:
  • In a nationally representative data set, chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade. The impact is twice as great for students from low-income families.
  • A Baltimore study found a strong relationship between sixth-grade attendance and the percentage of students graduating on time or within a year of their expected high school graduation.
  • Chronic absenteeism increases achievement gaps at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
  • Because students reared in poverty benefit the most from being in school, one of the most effective strategies for providing pathways out of poverty is to do what it takes to get these students in school every day. This alone, even without improvements in the American education system, will drive up achievement, high school graduation, and college attainment rates.
DepEd secretary Luistro obviously fails to see this, the same way he fails to see that this year's school opening is NOT the best class opening so far.



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