Reaching out to out of school youths

Published by rudy Date posted on February 15, 2009

The Department of Education (DepEd) recently started conducting a massive search for these out of school youths (OSYs) by means of the Project Reaching All Children (REACH), aimed at bringing back young Filipinos to school.

Education assistant secretary Teresita Inciong said that as part of the thrust of the DepEd, they want to give the OSYs a chance against a tough world, where uncertainties are much around due to the Global Financial Crisis as they may face unemployment, poverty and exploitation, if they failed to get an education.

Inciong said that Education Secretary Jesli Lapus wants to make sure that majority, if not all of the 5.6 million out of school youth, will start their re-education this coming school year.

“We have to find them, reach them, keep them, make them complete school,” Inciong said at the recent 151st general assembly of the Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education (FUSE).

Inciong said that the dropout rate in elementary is six percent and in secondary is 7.5 percent, which are due to economic reasons, health, disabilities and school adjustments.

She said that Lapus has ordered the DepEd to maximizing by 2015 the DepEd resources in garnering a 98 percent universal school participation; 81 percent universal completion of the full cycle of basic education; and Satisfactory achievement level by all at every grade level (80 MPS).

Lapus said that the department has adopted several measures such as the food for school program, to lure the students from the “working sector” to the studying sector.

“Despite Philippine education being free and compulsory, we still have a staggering number of school-age children and youth out in the streets who face exploitation in all forms,” Lapus said.

For school year 2007 to 2008, some 2.2 million children aged 6 to12 years old and 3.4 million 12 to 15 years old out-of-school youth, or a total of 5.6 million are reported to be not in school.

Studies also showed that there is a drop out rate of 6% in elementary and 7.5 percent in the secondary level.

Lapus noted that getting children to enroll is already a big challenge and keeping them in school is even more daunting. Poverty is identified as the biggest factor that keeps children and youth from enrolling or regularly attending school.

According to Lapus, Project REACH has two major components: Child Find and Innovative Interventions.

Child Find will be initiated by the principal in collaboration with barangay councils who will conduct community assembly, family mapping, school-barangay posting and stakeholder assembly.

“Community involvement is critical here in identifying school-aged children in each family and in bringing educational intervention right at the barangay level,” Lapus stressed.

 The project demands all community stakeholders to extend assistance even beyond the workplace and even beyond their working hours when necessary to minimize, if not, eradicate potential school drop-outs.

The second component identified innovative intervention programs to find and keep children in school. This component is comprised of two sets of interventions—the demand-side and the supply side. The demand-side interventions involve assistance from DepEd partners.

 These include adopt-a-child project, supplementary feeding, scholarship grants, community voucher and subsidy programs in partnership with parent teacher community associations.

 The supply side intervention, on the other hand, are DepEd-initiated and funded. It is focused on the enrichment of existing intervention programs and the provision of alternative education delivery modes.

Inciong added that the project has put priority on children at risk in disadvantaged or marginalized communities, who are victims of exploitation or neglect, and who are with disabilities.

 She said the project will be implemented through family mapping, school-barangay posting, and community assembly.

Inciong said DepEd has existing programs and projects which are intended to be optimized, like Pasok at Balik-Eskwela Program, food for school children, subsidy for the indigents, school health referred and social welfare program, and distance and open learning.

Lapus earlier noted that getting children to enroll is already a big challenge and keeping them in school is even more daunting. Poverty is identified as the biggest factor that keeps children and youth from enrolling or regularly attending school.

Lapus said Project REACH has two major components: Child Find and Innovative Interventions.

The components are comprised of two sets of interventions—the demand-side and the supply side.

The demand-side interventions involve assistance from DepEd partners, to include adopt-a-child project, supplementary feeding, scholarship grants, community voucher and subsidy programs in partnership with parent teacher community associations.

The supply side intervention, on the other hand, are DepEd-initiated and funded. It is focused on the enrichment of existing intervention programs and the provision of alternative education delivery modes.

Launched only in December 2008, Lapus said they hope to fully mobilize education officials and personnel in intensifying working relations and social ties with partners in education.

Project REACH embarks on a combination of strategies for networking and linkages employing creative “catch and hold” interventions, capitalizing on strong school-stakeholders partnership.

Every barangay zone will post basic education-related school/community statistics for everyone accountable for the movement of children in school.

Project REACH bridges and strengthens the capacity of the school, the local government units, and other government agencies mandated to deliver basic services to its citizens.

Politicians and business leaders responded to the call of the DepEd as Senator Edgardo Angara, businessman and PAL Chairman Lucio Tan, and former Representative Salvador Escudero III doled out various contributions to the education sector, which included teacher training and teaching material distributions.

The three through their efforts were able to train 1,347 teachers, distributed 25,314 training video computer disks (VCDs), and circulated 1,347 journals last year.

The three formed a foundation called the Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education and in 2007, trained 864 teachers, distributed 17,081 VCDs, and circulated 864 journals.

In 2008, it trained 307 teachers in Metro Manila, five in Region I (La Union), one in Region II (Cagayan Valley), 172 in Region III (Aurora), 184 in Region IV-A (Calabarzon), 144 in Region IV-B (Mimaropa), 149 in Region V (Bicol), 115 in Region VI (Western Visayas), three in Region VII (Cebu), 149 in Region VIII (Eastern Visayas), 62 in Region IX (Zamboanga), 16 in Region X (Northern Mindanao), eight in Region XI (Davao), one in Region XIII (Caraga), and 31 in Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

FUSE also distributed last year 7,867 VCDs in Metro Manila, 100 in Region I, seven in Region II, 3,087 in Region III, 4,054 in Region IV-A, 189 in Region IV-B, 3,257 in Region V, 2,305 in Region VI, 47 in Region VII, 2,394 in Region VIII, 940 in Region IX, 367 in Region X, 40 in Region XI, 20 in Region XIII, and 640 in ARMM.

Likewise, the civil society group circulated 307 journals in Metro Manila, five in Region I, one in Region II, 172 in Region III, 184 in Region IV-A, 144 in Region IV-B, 149 in Region V, 115 in Region VI, three in Region VII, 149 in Region VIII, 62 in Region IX, 16 in Region X, eight in Region XI, one in Region XIII, and 31 in ARMM.

FUSE conducted last year the biggest out-of-town teachers’ training in the country, which was at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias City last October 16-17. It involved 274 participants: 36 in chemistry, 47 in English, 62 in science, 50 in mathematics, and 30 in physics. Forty-nine principals also attended an orientation seminar there. –Francis Earl A. Cueto Correspondent and Tesa Gaila-Ricafort, Manila Times

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