How Dubai Cares is getting children into school

Schools in the Philippines. Photo Courtesy: Dubai Cares
Schools in the Philippines. Photo Courtesy: Dubai Cares

Like many youngsters from provinces in the Philippines, circumstance, financial restraints and emotional difficulties prevented Bhing-Bhing from going to school and getting an education.

The fifth of 10 children, from one of the Philippines’ poorest provinces of Mandaon, Bhing-Bhing was forced to drop out of school when she was in Grade 1 because of the lengthy walking distance to school, difficulty with the subject matters, bullying and family financial constraints.

When asked what her life was like at that time, she just smiled and said: “My day passes by in our house in the mountains with nothing to do but to crack Talisay nuts. The trees which bear the nut grow abundantly in the area.” 

Her mother tried to enrol her again in school, but she was not admitted because she was over the maximum age for Grade 2. 

Her story is far from being out of the ordinary. In the Philippines, about two million primary school-age children and adolescents remain out of school. Many come from the poorest, most marginalised areas.

The root causes behind out-of-school children or young people dropping out of educational establishments are often all too familiar: a lack of finances to pay for schooling costs, gender discrimination – namely the reliance on girls for domestic chores and care giving – child labour and other forms of exploitation, adolescent pregnancy, and the lack of quality education leading to children’s lack of interest in their schooling. 

In the Masbate Province alone, 42.5 per cent of the population – double the national average of 21 per cent – lives in poverty.

According to the Philippines Statistics Agency, 24 per cent of children between the ages of 13 to 17 years are out of school. As The Filipino Child Policy Brief notes, a large proportion of those not in school are from the poorest quintile. Luckily, eight years ago, Bhing-Bhing was given a second chance at education thanks to the Alternative Learning System programme that Dubai Cares operates in Barangays in the Philippines to attract out-of-school children back to the classroom.

The programme primarily targets out-of-school children and youths, who are in need of basic and functional literacy skills, specifically numeracy, writing, and reading.

With the help of Dubai Cares, this programme engages out-of-school children and youths, adults, those with disabilities, geographically isolated learners, employed learners, and anybody wishing to continue learning. 

For two years, Bhing-Bhing was enrolled in the Basic Literacy Programme until it discontinued in her area. Years later the Alternative Learning System programme returned to her area thanks to the Dubai Cares-supported RAISE (Real Assets Through Improved Skills and Education for Adolescent Girls) programme and Bhing-Bhing was able to enrol again in the Alternative Learning System. 

At first, Bhing-Bhing found it difficult to identify letters, she did not know how to read and she was shy and seldom mingled with others. 

Thanks to extra teaching she received from her instructional manager, after ten months, her handwriting and reading have improved remarkably, although she needs more practice in maths.

Bhing-Bhing does not currently vote because she struggles with literacy, but her mother is hopeful that they will be able to assist her in the future and her daughter will be able to exercise her right to vote. 

Her mother is thankful that her daughter is able to continue her learning through alternative learning and the RAISE project.

Today, her daughter – like many other students benefiting from the programme – has a brighter, more hopeful future, thanks to an education initiative implemented by Dubai Cares.

Plan International is the oldest and largest children’s development organisation in the world

Published: April 22, 2017 04:00 AM


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