Zero dropout: Target achieved

Published by rudy Date posted on May 5, 2011

DepEd strives to solve enrolment retention problems in the Visayas…

MANILA, Philippines — According to the 2010 Department of Education (DepEd) data, of the almost 14 million elementary pupils, 6.28 percent dropped out in schoolyear 2009-2010. That is more than 800,000 pupils.

In the secondary level, out of the more than 6.8 million high school students, more than 540,000 dropped out, a 7.95 percent dropout rate.

The high dropout rate remains one of the major problems in the country’s education system, especially in public schools in far-flung areas that have little access to proper school management practices. Poverty has been identified as the major culprit. Children suffer from malnutrition, while parents cannot afford to send them to school despite free basic education. Many children either choose to work or are forced to work to help their poor families.

Furthermore, budget constraints and the lack of support from the government make schools settle on what they are given. Thus, they become deficient.


It’s been a long-held dream for the DepEd to achieve zero percent dropout rate. Fortunately, many organizations share in that dream and endeavor to help the government.

For instance, the Don Simplicio Lizares National High School in Barangay Matab-ang, Talisay City, Negros Occidental achieved a zero dropout rate in two years. This feat was also achieved by Zamora Elementary School in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental.

The secret? It is not as difficult as others surmise it to be. It is all about STRIVE.

DepEd initiated Strengthening Implementation of Visayas Education or STRIVE, an initiative supported by the Australian government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). This program aimed to answer the declining performance in education, improvement in dropout, survival, and retention rates. A five-year investment, STRIVE was implemented in 2005 and recently wrapped up this year.

STRIVE was divided in two phases: Stage 1 was to improve student performance in English, Science, and Math and to increase participation of children and youth through technical assistance; and Stage 2 was to develop, support and strengthen education management and learning support systems for improved access to quality basic education, within the national reform agenda. The Support Options for Basic Education (SOBE), a grant from AusAID, was given to a school through STRIVE. SOBE was used as a leverage fund to begin school initiatives.


Don Simplicio Lizares National High School (DSLNHS) posted a 14.12 percent dropout rate out of its 432 students in 2008-2009. Head teacher 1 Sonia Bagaporo admitted that they were not really concerned about the school’s declining student numbers. But after implementing the interventions under SOBE, they posted zero percent dropout rates in the succeeding years.

Dropping out in this school was caused by child labor, early marriage, distance of home from school, poverty, poor health, disinterest to study, failing grades, truancy, gang influence and child abuse. Six different interventions were thus identified to help these problems, including demo farming, T-shirt printing and laminating, bakery, feeding program, alternative learning system, and remedial reading.

“The interventions generated income for the school, solving the problem of expenses for the feeding program, sustainability and remedial reading and maintenance of the equipment,” Bagaporo shared.

Students who worked got compensation, DSLNHS principal Merlinda Himar added. “The students were trained so they could have the skills and the money to sustain their studies,” Bagaporo explained. Work did not however hinder studies as their work was anchored in DepEd’s Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) subject.

The school’s enrolment rate also increased as a result. Parent confidence to send their children to school was back. “The students were attracted to our interventions because they want to learn. We were able to achieve our goal to have a zero dropout rate,” Himar said.

School is back to life

Zamora Elementary School is found in the outskirts of Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. It is surrounded by sugarcane plantations where most of the people in the barangay work. And yes, it took the whole barangay to raise the school back to life!

In 2008, with only 141 pupils, the school was near closure. The dilapidated facilities didn’t help in attracting students.

Principal Lourdes Quisio came to the school in 2008 and was shocked with what she saw. “May mga classrooms na dilapidated pero ang nakakuha ng attention ko is ‘yung malaking dropout rate nila for the last five consecutive years. Bumaba nang bumaba ang enrolment, tumaas nang tumaas ang dropout rate,” she narrated.

Quisio also saw the lack of cooperation between the school and the barangay.

“Maraming dahilan kung bakit bumaba ang enrolment. May insurgency problem, ang mga taga malayong lugar hindi makapunta kasi natatakot. Ikalawa, walang kooperasyon sa barangay at eskwelahan,” barangay captain Alfredo Verona admitted.

It was just fortunate that in the same year, the school was chosen as one of the pilot schools of STRIVE. Along came proposed interventions, which included intensified feeding program, Alternate Delivery Mode, Modified In-School and Off-School Approach (ADM MISOSA), food production/construction of school canteen, livelihood program for parents, reading program, construction of comfort rooms, renovation of Learning Resource Center, and free transportation assistance because some of the students live as far as seven kilometers away.

The school also provided livelihood programs for mothers like chorizo-making, fish-deboning, hair science, and beauty culture. Since the fathers work the sugarcane fields only during the six-month milling season, the livelihood program provided extra income for the families. For children who work, they have the Alternate Delivery Mode, a modified in-school and off-school approach (MISOSA). “It is modular. Involved din ang nanay, tinuturuan namin sila na kung papaano nila i-encourage ang mga bata na after work, meron pa silang gagawin,” Quisio said.

After the school implemented the SOBE and the cooperation between the barangay, the school achieved zero percent dropout rate. Enrolment increased and to date they have around 300 pupils, doubling the number from two schoolyears ago.

Quisio attributed this success to STRIVE’s holistic approach. “Packaged ang approach, lahat binago, lahat tinitignan para wala nang dahilan para hindi mag-improve. The community, the children, the parents and the local government, we all embraced it with our heart, that is why it achieved its goals,’’ the thankful school principal ended. –ANGELO G. GARCIA, Manila Bulletin

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