Keeping Children in School

When a child leaves school, basic education comes to a halt. There are alternative means of education, but for most out-of-school youth, leaving school is equivalent to no education. Reducing the number of school leavers is therefore an important objective for any basic education system. Improving attendance in schools is the first step in reaching out to school children. After all, basic education inside a classroom does not occur without the children being there.

Mother tongue based - multilingual education is one way of making a school more welcoming to young children. Using the language children have known before they enter school adds a sense of familiarity. This is no different from starting a conversation by finding an initial spark, an entry point of interest between pupils and teacher. It makes the school feel like a second home. Keeping children in school must be placed right there on top in thinking of ways to alleviate the problems of basic education not just in the Philippines but all over the world.

Language, however, is not the only thing that can bind a school to one's home. Educators in Milwaukee schools now consider art, music and gym as important ingredients in basic education:

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What Milwaukee schools are doing is supported by research. About two years ago, the US National Endowment for the Arts published a study showing how important the arts is in education. For example, the following graphs from The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies show that exposure to the arts is correlated with better performance in other areas of learning especially among students from poor families (low SES):

The figures above do show a strong correlation between participation in the arts and learning outcomes. The correlation should not be surprising. Even parents go to school when there is a recital, a chorus singing, a dance program, poetry reading, plays, and art exhibits. With attendance, there is engagement. And when there is engagement, there is a greater likelihood that learning happens.