PIDS: Extend CCT implementation but stop enlisting more beneficiaries

Published by rudy Date posted on April 10, 2013

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should consider an extended period of assistance to current beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash-Transfer Program instead of increasing the number of its beneficiaries, according to a study undertaken by researchers from government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

PIDS Senior Research fellow Celia Reyes and supervising research specialist Aubrey Tabuga recommended in their study the extension of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to current beneficiary families to ensure that their children can finish high school.

“If this happens, they will have more employment opportunities when they enter the labor market,” the PIDS researchers said.

They said extending the period of assistance would also be complementary to the recently adopted K to 12 program. This would enable the 4Ps children to complete the 12 years of primary and secondary schools by the time they reach 18 years old.

With a high-school education, PIDS said the poor would have better opportunities to transition into the tertiary level and receive better wages than if they only have an elementary education. Additionally, if the program were to concentrate on older children, the amount of assistance for boys should be higher than for girls given the lower school attendance of boys.

The PIDS’s in-depth analysis of the 4Ps revealed some weaknesses in its design and implementation. One is that while the 4Ps focuses on younger children, the data show that the more pressing problem lies in the school participation of older children.

“The program is generating positive impact on younger children or those at the primary level, but at 13 to 14 years of age, their school attendance wanes. The school attendance rate between the top 70 percent and the bottom 30 percent, which represents the poor, is very small among children aged 7 to 12. But this gap widens steadily as they grow older,” said Pids.

The government think tank also noted that gender was not incorporated in the design of 4Ps.

“Data show it is an important factor to consider. Boys were found to have lower school participation than girls particularly as they grow older. In 2011, while about 90 percent of girls aged 14 were in school, only 84 percent of boys were. This gap is also visible among children 15 to 18 years old,” said PIDS.

PIDS said re-examining the design of the 4Ps before its programmed expansion in 2013 is “crucial.”

The 4Ps provides cash grants for health and educational expenses. The target beneficiaries are poor families with children up to 14 years of age. Once a child reaches 15 years, he or she no longer becomes eligible for the educational component.

The cash benefit includes P6,000 annually (P500 per month) to each family-beneficiary for health and nutrition expenses and P3,000 per child for one school year for educational expenses. Each family-beneficiary will receive the educational grant for up to a maximum of three children.

The receipt of the grant is subject to certain conditionalities, such as attendance in day-care or preschool classes of children 3 to 5 years for at least 85 percent of the time and enrollment in elementary or high school of children 6 to 14 years and attendance for at least 85 percent of the time.

As of September 2012, the DSWD reported that more than 3 million families have already been reached and assisted by the program. From merely 340,391 beneficiaries in 2008, the number of beneficiaries increased by a rate of 54 percent per year, on the average. –Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter, Businessmirror

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