Back to School Blues

Everywhere you go, parents are rushing to the bookstores or local markets to prepare their children go back to school in June. The Department of Education (DepEd) prescribes June 3 as the first day of school, while other private schools in the country will begin around the 2nd week of June.

Education is one of the biggest dreams Filipino parents have for their children. The Philippine population is 107, 934, 116 with about 50% ages 0 – 24, or school age. The United Nations noted that the Philippines is entering a demographic sweet spot which means that the dependents population is less than the working population with a median age of 24 years old. Theoretically, with a strong and young workforce, we should be anticipating the golden years of Philippine economic growth.

But before we take a very optimistic stand, it may be wise for us to assess our current realities.

In the past years, DepEd has achieved milestones, particularly the implementation of the K to 12 program, it has sustained its increased obligation at 97% for the school building program, and it has widely implemented its alternative learning system (ALS) targeting out of school youth.

Yet, despite these initiatives, the Philippines continues to face challenges in fulfilling its mandate to provide inclusive and quality education for every Filipino. According to the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), one out of ten Filipinos within school age is out of school, of which majority are female. Sun Star Philippines published today, May 26, 2019, reasons why Filipino youth do not go back to school.

According to the report, marriage, lack of income and household work were the top reasons why Filipino girls do not go back to school. While lack of interest and lack of income are top reasons why Filipino boys do not go back to school.

Faced with these statistics, what would have served as a driver for Philippine economic growth – a young population – now poses a great risk if we are unable to provide quality education. Fortunately, we are not left without any recourse.

Here are some initiatives that you can support by donating funds or volunteering your time to help every Filipino have the chance to quality education.

1. DepEd’s BRIGADA ESKWELA – This year’s them, “Matatag na Bayan para as Maunlad na Paaralan,” invites everyone to be part of DepEd’s Brigada Eskwela program which kick offs in May but is a whole year program. Teacher PH shares activities you can participate in for the whole year.

2. Donate to Non-Profit Organizations – there are many organizations that help Filipino children have access to quality k to 12 education. Here are top 3 that comes to mind.

  • World Vision Philippines – you can donate Php750/month to help Filipino children have school supplies, meals, transportation and other costs surrounding going to school.
  • ChildHope Philippines – you can donate and volunteer to help Filipino street children have access to education, basic health care and psychological support.
  • Children’s Hour Philippines – for Php500/month, you can help a child have quality Special Education

3. Corporate Foundations focused on Education – there are also corporate foundations focused in providing inclusive and quality education for Filipinos, not only for k to 12 but also for technical-vocational education and college education, open for corporate or organizational partnerships. Here are top 5 that comes to mind.

  • SM Foundation – SM patriarch, the late Henry Sy, Sr., believed that education is the greatest equalizer. SM Foundation provides scholarship grants for college and technical-vocational education. It also builds public school buildings that are conducive for learning to help narrow the gap in school building requirements.
  • Metrobank Foundation – The Metrobank – MTAP- DepEd Match Challenge (MMC) focuses on excellence in math through its annual mathematics competition for elementary and high school students.
  • TanYanKee Foundation – The Lucio Tan group provides access to quality education through its scholarship program to deserving UE undergraduate students.
  • Megaworld Foundation – Since 1999, the foundation provides college scholarship grants to help bright but underprivileged students.
  • Ayala Foundation – Their programs are focused on upgrading public schools through technology, teacher training and CENTEX.

As our hero, Dr. Jose Rizal states, “The youth is the hope of our future,” we all have to work together to make every parent’s dream for their child to finish school come true. No family can do it alone. It requires a national effort, not only by the government, but by every Filipino to ensure the future of our country by educating every Filipino child reach their full potential.

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