MANILA, Philippines – The government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) or 4Ps program significantly improved the health, nutrition and education of children of low-income families, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said yesterday, citing studies conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Ateneo de Manila University.
Soliman said a spot-check evaluation by Ateneo in February 2010 among 760 beneficiaries of the 4Ps program showed big improvements in school attendance and use of health services such as immunization, nutrition and maternal health services among the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Northern Samar.
She said an average of 4.7 antenatal visits was noted among pregnant women, 62 percent of children 1-2 years old received full immunization while children aged 6-14 years received deworming pills in the last four years.
Soliman said a recent study by the SWS, meanwhile, revealed that enrollment rate for beneficiaries 6-14 years old is high at 96 percent.
“Compliance with attendance among school age beneficiaries is also high at 88 percent,” Soliman told a press briefing.
She said this means that out of approximately five million children registered in the program, 88 percent are able to attend classes 85 percent of the time.
Soliman said impact studies of the SWS and Ateneo also showed that more students and parents attend extra-curricular activities, students come to school with better clothing, project materials and food, making them more active in classrooms.
“It is also noteworthy that Pantawid Pamilya plays a major role in reducing child labor especially in rural areas because many poor parents are now able to send their children to school,” the DSWD chief said.
The studies, however, did not cover the expansion of the CCT program.
In a related development, the DSWD-National Capital Region (NCR) began providing capital assistance and income-generating opportunities in the form of loan or seed fund to two batches of beneficiaries of 4Ps in Metro Manila.
DSWD-NCR director Ma. Alicia Bonoan said some 325 CCT beneficiaries were granted capital assistance amounting to P559,000. The family beneficiaries were from the cities of Caloocan, Manila, Navotas, Pasay, Quezon and Taguig, Bonoan said.
She said a majority of the recipients invested their loaned capital in charcoal making which has been a major source of income in the community, while the others ventured into buy and sell and mini sari-sari stores.
4Ps provides cash subsidy of P1,400 monthly to each qualified household beneficiary. The cash subsidy is to be used for the educational and health needs of a qualified poor family with a pregnant woman and children aged 14 and below. –Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)