While the economy grew 6.4% in the first quarter of the year making it one of the best beating even those of the US and Europe, one wonders how much of that growth was shared with the most disadvantageous in the community. With poverty a major cause for low school attendance, getting a better education will be a challenge for those needing it for a better way of life.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
June 20, 2012
Poverty forces low school attendance in 5 years
OVER A TENTH of children aged 6-11 years have not attended primary school while four in 10 aged 12-15 years have not attended secondary school for the last five school years, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said, a condition attributed by an economist to poverty.
The net enrollment ratios (NER) — the percentage of actual enrolled students of an age group to the population of the same age group in a given year, averaged 88.93% for primary education and 60.23% for secondary education, during school years 2006-2007 to 2010-2011.
The figures do not count the overaged, overstaying and underaged enrollees.
Regions which recorded the lowest NER for primary education include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at 72.80%, or 27 out of 100 children aged 6-11 years did not attend elementary school. Others were Soccsksargen, 83.88%; and Western Visayas, 85.04%.
In terms of secondary education, the lowest NER were observed in ARMM (31.29%), indicating 69 out of 100 children aged 12-15 years did not attend high school. Others were Zamboanga Peninsula, 50.68%, and Soccsksargen, 50.90%.
The Cordillera Administrative Reigon (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Metro Manila and Central Luzon had the most primary and secondary education attainment.
An official of the National Economic and Development Authority traced the poor school attendance to poverty.
“Others include high cost of education, employment or looking for work [usually among high school age group], lack of personal interest, and other reasons,” Assistant Director-General Ruperto P. Majuca said.
University of Asia and the Pacific senior economist Cid L. Terosa agreed.
“Many [children] need to help their parents earn money. Many drop out of school because hunger makes them less intellectually capable to cope with their studies. Many don’t have the means to travel to school or buy school needs. Many live in areas that are far from schools,” he said.
The NSCB report showed that NER in secondary education is inversely correlated by 82.8% to poverty incidence. This means that the lower the NER in secondary education, the higher poverty incidence was observed, in general.
“The disturbing NER and actual number of children not in school have negative implications on the quality of human development, level of human resource development, and long-term economic growth,” Mr. Terosa said.
“Primary and secondary education are important because they are the foundations of human capital accumulation in any country,” he added.
Mr. Majuca said in a separate interview: “Basic education equips every person the basic and life skills such as literacy and numeracy skills necessary to function as a productive citizen. These skills are also crucial in pursuing tertiary education whether technical-vocational education and training or higher education.”
NSCB noted that Caraga, CAR and Davao regions had relatively high NER in primary education, but were not sustained at the secondary level.
Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Mimaropa, meanwhile, did not do well in terms of NER in primary education, but are relatively well in secondary education.
ARMM, Soccsksargen and Eastern Visayas have low NER in primary education and even lower NER in secondary education.
Regions that have high NER in both primary and secondary education are Ilocos Region, Cagayan and Metro Manila.
Mr. Majuca said the government is targeting a 100% NER for elementary and 93.34% for secondary by 2016.
“Basic education continues to be the government priority… alongside the full implementation of K to 12,” he said.
K to 12 will add two years to the basic education system in a bid to equip students with basic skills to work after graduating from high school.
On the other hand, Mr. Terosa said “K to 12 can make it difficult for many households to send their children to school, but the long-term rewards can negate short-term difficulties.”
“Enrollment can go down, but if K to 12 proves to be beneficial in terms of employment and income many households would be encouraged to send their children to school,” he added. — C. A. C. Valeroso