DESPITE FREE EDUCATION: Poverty forces youths out of school

PUPILS of Don Balbino Seron Elementary School in San Joaquin, Iloilo attend their classes. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo 

FREE education in public elementary and secondary schools appears to be insufficient to make Western Visayas youths stay in schools.

According to data presented by Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao, the dropout rate in Western Visayas surged by 48.54 percent in the secondary level, and 0.50 percent in elementary level.

Cadiao, who also chairs the Regional Development Council (RDC), revealed the data in her State of the Region Address (SORA) on June 21, 2019 at RDC Hall of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional office in Iloilo City.

Cadiao said the two main reasons why the youth scuttle their education are poverty and lack of interest.

“Lack of personal interest and financial difficulties are some of the cited reasons for the dropout rates. Even if education is practically free for all, parents are continuously confronted with daily expenses for fares, baon, food, school, projects, among others,” Cadiao said.

The RDC report also indicated that completion rate decreased by 2.26 in elementary and slightly increased by 0.12 percent in the secondary level.

Net enrolment rates for elementary and secondary levels increased by 3.77 percent and 8.60 percent, respectively.

More than 2 million students went back to school on June 3, 2019.

According to Victor De Gracia, assistant director of Department of Education (DepEd) Western Visayas, the rising dropout rate is mainly due to the never-ending problem of poverty.

De Gracia lamented that the main reason of students dropping out is they prefer to work and help their families instead of going to school.

Base man sa pamangkot naton sa mga ga-drop out, ang ila masami ginahambal mabulig sila sa ila pamilya kag mangita livelihood. Pinakadako gid nga factor ang tungod sa kapigaduhan kag day to day maintenance para sa pamilya,” he added.

De Gracia believes that if concerns on livelihood are addressed, the attendance, particularly of the high school students, will improve.

“Livelihood ang main concern nga kon masabat tani ina, ma-solve naton ang attendance sa high school,” he said.

He revealed that he is looking into piloting a program in Antique to provide students with the opportunity to learn and earn at the same time.

“‘Obra Eskwela’ is my concept which would include livelihood and convergence among agencies. Through my concept, the students learn and at the same time they work through our alternative learning system (ALS),” he said.

According to De Gracia, existing livelihood programs of various agencies can be deployed for out of school youth.

“Our modules are very flexible and pwede gid ma-adjust kon ano ang mga existing livelihood programs like in Antique ang Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may ara sila nga “Tupad Program’. I-partner ko sila tapos bayran sang DOLE ang labor kag i-provide sang DepEd ang pag-eskwela thru our modules in the ALS,” he said.

To counter the lack of interest among students, De Gracia emphasized the need to enhance the motivation and instruction techniques of the teachers.

“It can really be addressed by the teachers. Pwede gid ma-address ina sa teachers, kay gadepende gid ina sa pag atipan sang mga maestra, sa ila skills sang pag-deliver nila sang lesson nila nga himuon nila nga very interesting, mga techniques on motivation, instruction, dapat hanason ang aton mga teachers nga daw deficient dira,” he said.

De Gracia added that supervisors, superintendents and principals also have a great role in monitoring and improving classroom supervision.

“In that regard, iimprove ang classroom supervision, dapat masulod gid ang mga supervisors, superintendents and principals kadtuan nila ang classroom kag mabal-an nila kon ano ang sitwasyon kag buligan ang may mga weaknesses pa in teaching effectively the students,” he said.

More importantly, De Gracia stressed that parents should also support their children especially at home.

“Important gid ang parents, kay i-follow up gid sa balay, so dapat ma-reach out man sang aton teachers ang parents para aware sila kung ano ang sitwasyon sang kabataan kag kung ano ila mabulig in terms of support at home,” he said.