Solons hit voucher program as 4.8 M children out of school 

Jun. 06, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Lawmakers on Monday scored the implementation of the government’s voucher and cash transfer program as 4.8 million Filipino children were out of school.

In a statement, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Rep. France Castro said the government failed “to curb the worsening out-of-school and dropout rates.  This, despite allotting billions to voucher and cash transfer programs alleged to bring more students to schools.”

At least 4.8 million were out of school in School Year 2015-2016, an 11 percent increase in 5 years. Elementary school-age children who are not in school more than tripled from around 431,000 in 2011 to 1.4 million in 2015.  The number of high school-age youth not enrolled in first to fourth year decreased but remain high in 2015 with 3.4 million, according to Department of Education’s record of participation rates of public school students.

Meanwhile, the completion rate for high school declined in the same period, with 1.9 million, or more than a fourth of the enrollees, dropping out in the middle of the school year.  Non-completion in elementary was halved but remain high with about 2.3 million leaving before graduation.

“We attribute low enrolment and high drop-out to the alarming shortage of public schools, especially high schools, and the insufficient budget for their maintenance and operations,” Tinio said.

“With 36,492 public elementary schools and only 7,677 high schools, children in four to five elementary schools will have to cram themselves into a single high school.  This means classrooms bursting to capacity, deteriorating learning and teaching conditions, eventually, dropping out of the student.”

The lawmakers also noted the wide gaps between elementary and high school enrolments (91.05 percent and 68.15 percent in 2015, respectively) which indicates that a significant number of those in elementary do not go on and finish high school.

“This means that while 9 out of 10 elementary school-age children are enrolled in elementary, enrollment in high school dropped to only around 7 out of 10,” the ACT solons said.

For Castro, while almost all barangays in the country have at least 1 elementary school, “high schools are found mainly in urban areas and population centers only, at a ratio of 1 high school for every 4 to 5 barangays.”

“Students in rural areas take the worst hit.  Transportation costs and long travel–hazardous in many cases–to the nearest high schools contribute to students being discouraged to continue their education. That’s why we see Grade 6 completers not enrolling in or dropping out of high school,” Castro lamented.

Tinio said that the “only way to bring more students to school is for government to reverse its habit of underfunding public education, which will enable government to build and maintain more public schools, especially junior and senior high schools.”

They urged the President to rechannel to public education funds from two big ticket programs, the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“From 2011 to 2015, funds for GASTPE vouchers doubled while funds for the 4Ps tripled, but our statistics on access of the youth to free basic education even worsened.  This is proof of what we have been saying all along–these band-aids are ineffective responses to low access to education and poor alternatives for direct investments for social services,” the lawmakers said. (

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