SIMPLY adding more classrooms and public schools—or extending cash transfers—will not help solve the country’s increasing dropout rate, according to a policy brief recently released by the government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In the policy brief titled “A Glimpse at the School Dropout Problem,” author PIDS Senior Research Fellow Aniceto Orbeta Jr. said lack of personal interest is the major reason the country’s primary—and secondary—school dropout rates have been increasing in recent years, not a lack of availability or access to schools.
“Providing more schools may solve other schooling problems but it will not be an effective tool for reducing dropout as the nonavailability of schools is not mentioned by many as a reason for dropping out of school,” Orbeta said. “Special attention to boys is warranted in solving the dropout problem. Their reasons given—lack of personal interest, employment and looking for work—should be looked into more deeply.”
Based on the policy note, around 40.8 percent of male elementary pupils cited lack of personal interest as the main reason for dropping out, while for male high-school students, it was the need to look for
work or employment, as cited by 39.4 percent of those surveyed.
Data also showed the lack of personal interest among male high-school students was the third top reason for dropping out, at 22.1 percent. The lack of personal interest, was, therefore, cited by the author as the main reason for increasing dropout rates in the Philippines.
Orbeta added that while much of the literature indicates economic-related issues account for many elementary pupils and high-school students dropping out of school, it will take time and actual studies to prove that conditional cash transfers (CCTs) can, in fact, prevent children from dropping out of school.
Ultimately, the author said that sustained and inclusive economic growth is the only long-term solution to solving the dropout rate.
“The ongoing conditional cash-transfer programs which provide cash to poor families if they keep their children in school should be able to make a dent on the dropout problem, particularly for those citing employment or looking for work as a reason. But only a rigorous impact evaluation can provide the answer on whether this intuitively appealing hypothesis will be validated,” Orbeta said.
What could be needed, Orbeta said, is to make the education system more relevant to the realities of the communities where children live. This can include improvements made in the curriculum to pique the interest of elementary pupils
and high-school students, or remedial action to ease the frustrations of students with a poor school and/or household environment.
The author said these may be due to several demand-side and supply-side issues, such as poor information on the value of education, the poor’s impatience on the returns of education, the education system’s inability to produce relevant results for school-aged children, and the accumulation frustrations in schools because students simply cannot cope with the poor school or poor household environments.
He added that providing more resources to schools with a high dropout rate might also help.
Orbeta said cooperation among communities and schools for a concerted effort at implementing better truancy laws will “definitely” help.
“Unless we are able to understand this complex issue better, we cannot be precise on how to deal with it,” Orbeta, however, said. –Cai U. Ordinario / Reporter, Businessmirror