Friday, November 10, 2017

Plan International Philippines Partners with the Department of Education to Implement Flexible Learning Programs

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Non-profit organization Plan International, through a continuous partnership with the Department of Education, is guiding more than 18,000 girls and boys to have access to quality education and essential life skills needed for a better future.

In July 2013, Plan International, with support from Dubai Cares[1], started the Real Assets through Improved Skills and Education for Children Girls (RAISE) program in the Philippines to address the challenges faced by disadvantaged children and youth in accessing quality education and developing essential life skills.

It began in the provinces of Northern Samar and Masbate, which both remained to be among the poorest provinces in the country with a poverty incidence of 43.5 percent and 40.6 percent[2], respectively.

Targeting the underserved children and youth demographic, particularly girls aged 10 to 19 years old, the program aimed to support their completion of primary and secondary education, and contribute to the reduction of the dropout rate in the two provinces. 

Plan International cites that insufficient family income to support schooling, gender norms and behaviors detrimental to education such as the reliance on girls for domestic chores and care giving, early pregnancy and/or marriage, insufficient family income to support schooling, child labor and other forms of exploitation, illness or disability, and the lack of quality education leading to children’s disinterest in their schooling, contribute to high dropout and low completion rates.

To address this, the organization together with DepEd, has been working closely with schools and local government units to support marginalized children and youths who are out of school or are in school but at risk of dropping out. The program focuses on flexible learning options, such as the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to cater to needs of marginalized out-of-school children and youth, as well as the Modified In-School Off-School Approach for elementary students and the Open High School Program for those in secondary school.

One of the beneficiaries of this program is “Rosa” from Masbate, who became pregnant at a young age. She lived in poor housing conditions with her abusive partner and was forced to quit school due to her pregnancy. When her mother learned about RAISE, she encouraged Rosa to enter the Open High School Program. Rosa, was able to complete Grade 10 in March last year, and is now set to enter senior high school. She dreams of making a name in the fashion industry as a designer and strives to achieve big dreams for her little girl.

Before Rosa went back to school, she was one of the 4.8 million elementary and high school dropouts cases[3] in the Philippines, that are mainly caused by financial constraints.

Because of this, the RAISE project continues its vision to support over 18,000 girls and boys through a wide range of activities that give them access to quality education and build their social, personal and financial assets to enable them to make informed life choices, to secure a better future.

Plan International is also calling on lawmakers to increase education spending in the country particularly to address the dropout rate of school-age girls due to unplanned pregnancies and early marriage. Likewise, Plan International is advocating for schools and communities to implement flexible learning options to attract out-of-school children and youth, as well as those at risk of dropping out, to finish their schooling.

Ariel Frago, manager of the RAISE program, said that allocating higher investment for flexible learning is a must in order to support adolescent mothers like Rosa, as well as other vulnerable children and youth, in completing their education.

“By closing the education funding gap and addressing the barriers preventing equal participation in school, we can enable both girls and boys to reach their full potential,” Frago added. 

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[1] Dubai Cares is a UAE-based global philanthropic organization which helps provide children in developing countries with access to quality education through the design and funding of programs.

[2] Data from Philippine Statistics Authority under its ‘The Countryside in Figures’

[3] Statistics from House Bill (HB) 1825 authored by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas which cited DepEd records

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