BAGUIO CITY—Rough terrain in remote villages in the Cordillera and lack of parental support are among the reasons many children in the region don’t finish school, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.
Despite these problems, the DSWD is increasing the participation rate in schools for students between 3 and 14 years old through the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, Leonardo Reynoso, the agency’s regional director, said.
The CCT, he said, had helped increase school participation rate in the towns of Calanasan and Cabugao in Apayao, from 68 to 92 percent, while in Besao, Mt. Province, the rate jumped from 42 to 95 percent this year.
He said students walked several kilometers and endured mountainous terrain to go to school in remote areas and this drove many of them to drop out of school.
In some instances, their parents and grandparents, especially those who did not finish school, are not supportive.
“How you value education is important. If [their elders] did not study, would education be valuable to them? If it is not, then that is a problem,” Reynoso said.
But he said poverty and lack of good roads should not be a reason for children to drop out because they have a right to be educated. He said families should work hard to send their children to school and not entirely depend on government subsidies.
The CCT gives poor families monthly subsidies for their children’s education and medical needs.
Reynoso said poor families in the Cordillera were mostly farmers who do not own lands and have no access to irrigation systems and sources of capital.
“Of course, we want a 100-percent school participation rate of children in all barangays,” he said.
Rogerson Dennis Fernandez, DSWD regional training officer, said since the CCT was implemented in 2008, other government agencies, like the Department of Education and the Department of Health, had noted improvements in school attendance and health services.
Reynoso said the DSWD had allotted P715 million for health, education and other needs of more than 60,000 poor families in the region. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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