School dropouts

AS REPORTED by this paper yesterday, even if basic education is free, parents in Western Visayas are continuously confronted with daily expenses for the fare of their children who are going to school, their baon and school projects, among others. As a result, the elementary and high school dropout rates in the region have increased.

This problem is not unique to Western Visayas. Other regions have similar concerns. But there’s an interesting study about this conducted by the state-owned Philippine Institute for Development Studies. It discovered that more boys drop out of school or obtain failing grades compared to girls in basic education.

The study titled “Boys Are Still Left Behind in Basic Education” showed that about two-thirds or 65 percent of out-of-school children (OOSC) in 2017, aged 5-17 years, were composed of boys. It also revealed that 22 percent of boys between ages 12 and 15 did not reach the upper secondary level compared with girls at 12 percent. This is also similar in the lower secondary level (12-15 years old) wherein the OOSC rate for boys was at 8 percent and 3 percent for girls.

This poor performance, according to researchers, “can often lead to low motivation to continue school”, which may eventually result in student dropout. Boys, they said, were also likely to obtain low grades, take remedial classes, and have difficulty in getting accepted to the next school level.

One of the reasons of school dropouts identified is the lack of interest especially among boys in the primary and secondary levels. This “lack of interest” may come from their parents’ lack of desire in sending them to school. A report of the World Bank in 2018 speculated that “parents may calculate that the perceived gains of further education are no longer worth the opportunity cost.”  But this view has been refuted by the PIDS study. It noted that the “opportunity costs versus perceived gains in the schooling of children are not considered competing factors even for families living in poverty,” adding that, “there is full appreciation of the importance of schooling” regardless of how poor the family may be.
 Other causes of dropout incidence in boys were “peer influence (i.e., barkada) and vices”. Computer and mobile phone games were also identified as main causes of chronic absenteeism and lack of focus in school. According to the study, male students are “more likely to engage in computer and mobile games, skip school with their peers, and start drinking and smoking.”

To address these concerns, the researchers urged the Department of Education to design and implement “specific learning materials and tools appropriate to a certain curriculum to accommodate diverse manners of learning”. Teachers should also be allowed to exercise “flexibility in designing interventions specific to addressing barriers” that can affect the learning of boys.

We must make sure our children stay in school and not drop out. An educated citizenry is key to make this country progressive.


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