THE population of persons of school-going age who were not in school dropped to 3.6 million in 2017 from 3.8 million a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The survey of out-of-school children and youth (OSCY) determined that the population in 2017 represents 9.1% of the 39.2 million Filipinos aged 6 to 24 years old, according to the PSA’s 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS). In 2016, the equivalent percentage was 9.8%.
The PSA defines the OSCY category as those in the 6-14 age group who are not receiving formal schooling, and those in the 15-24 bracket who are currently out of school, have not completed post-secondary education and are not gainfully employed.
By age group, 83.1% of the 3.6 million OSCYs were 16-24 years old; 11.2% were 12-15; and 5.7% were 6-11. The proportion of OSCYs was higher among females (63.3%) than males (36.7%).
The most common reasons cited for not attending school were marriage or family matters (37%); lack of personal interest (24.7%); and high cost of education or financial concerns (17.9%).
The PSA said around 50% of OSCYs belong to families whose incomes were in the bottom 30% on a per capita basis.
Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines said that having a clear understanding of the reasons for not being in school “should be key” to solving the problem of school dropouts.
“For one, poverty keeps children from getting a good education, and, at times, children who learn to earn at an early age seem to drop out of school because they do not see the immediate value of finishing high school education or getting a degree,” he said.
Mr. Asuncion noted that this problem has long-term consequences. He cited a 2015 study by the Bangkok office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization where the direct economic costs incurred by OSCYs who have not completed primary education in Southeast Asian countries is 0.1% to 4% of economic output once the OSCYs reach working age.
“Thus, government should definitely be involved in addressing the problem. But, a multi-stakeholder approach may also be beneficial,” he said, adding that the government’s cash transfer programs for the poor is “one example of how government deals with keeping children in school through helping their parents.”
The APIS is a nationwide survey conducted to provide non-income indicators related to poverty at the national level. The 2017 survey covers around 11,000 sample households nationwide. — Lourdes O. Pilar