The Problem of Rural Education in the Philippines
About 80% of the Filipino poor live in the rural areas of the country. These are towns located deep in the mountains and the rice fields. The population density in the rural parts of the country is low, and there is a corresponding deficiency in schools and classrooms. Public school is free, but families still cannot afford to send their children for a complicated network of reasons. In this editorial for the Pinoy Press, one author delineates the key issue: With around 65 million Filipinos or about 80 percent of the population trying to survive on 96 pesos ($2) or less per day, how can a family afford the school uniforms, the transportation to and from school, the expenses for school supplies and projects, the miscellaneous expenses, and the food for the studying sibling? More than this, with the worsening unemployment problem and poverty situation, each member of the family is being expected to contribute to the family income. Most, if not all, out-of-school children are on the streets begging, selling cigarettes, candies, garlands, and assorted foodstuffs or things, or doing odd jobs. Beyond the selling goods on the street, children in farming families are expected to work in the fields during harvest time. In agriculture-based communities where farming is the primary livelihood, having children around to help with the work means more income for the family. In a recent trip to Valladolid, someone told me that children are paid 15 pesos for a day’s work in the blistering heat. They are pulled from school for two or three months at a time and are irreparably disadvantaged compared with their classmates. So, they may have to repeat the grade, only to be pulled out of school again next year. Transportation is another big problem. Kids walk 2-3 kilometers or more to and from school every day. They have to cross rivers and climb hills with their bookbags. The ones that can afford it take a tricycle, but that is a luxury. Schools are sometimes too far for the most remote communities to practically access. So the families can’t afford to pay and the children are pulled from school. It seems like an intractable problem. Corruption in the education bureaucracy and a lack of resources make delivering a high-quality education to all Filipinos a challenge. Microfinance is one way to help. With the assistance of microcredit loans, women can pay for the education of their children – to purchase uniforms, textbooks, lunches, and rides to school. Also, by creating another source of income other than farming, the children do not have to come help the family work the fields. When I talk to NWTF clients about their dreams, they unfailingly say they hope for their children to “finish their studies.” History has shown that it is an achievable goal. But real systemic change needs to come from above. As long as corruption and bureaucracy paralyzes the system, the goal of delivering a decent education to children – which pays dividends to the country in the long run – will remain out of reach.
Education has undeniably gained enormous respect for its perceived value in the conduct of human life. Consequently, parents send their children to school, hoping that in doing so, they are carving their children bright futures. This reason is equated to their family’s aspiration- to prosper in the future. In addition, organized societies take pride in establishing and maintaining learning institutions, schools, colleges and universities. With well-educated citizens, trained in scientific problem-solving approach, people are looking forward for nation’s developments and progress contributing to its citizenry convenient and improved life.
Our constitution, the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, states that the state shall protect and promote the rights of all citizens to quality...
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