Legislative and Policy Framework to Promote and Protect Children's Rights in the Philippines

The Philippine government has enacted complementary legal instruments to protect the rights of children. Among these are the Child and Youth Welfare Code (P.D. 603) of 1974, the Labor Code, R.A. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and R.A. 7658 or the Prohibition of the Employment of Children Below 15 Years Act, which amended the controversial provision of R.A. 7610 that legitimized employment of children below 15 years old.

"The Child and Youth Welfare Code, known as the Magna Carta for Children's Rights, defines the rights and responsibilities of children, their parents, the family as a whole, the community, association, school, the Church, and the State in ensuring the proper development of children. It outlines administrative measures and programs for the care and treatment of special children such as dependent, abandoned, neglected and working children, mentally retarded, physically handicapped, emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children and youth offenders." -- (Initial Report on the Implementation of the UN CRC, Council for the Welfare of Children, 1994)

The Child and Youth Welfare Code created the Council for the Welfare of Children, which was tasked to monitor the implementation of laws on child welfare and protection and to formulate an integrated national policy on child and youth welfare. It is supposed to design programs and services for children and to recommend their implementation to the President and other concerned agencies.

The Labor Code defines the minimum employable age at 15 years, except when the child works under the responsibility of his or her parents or guardian and the work does not interfere with his or her schooling. In addition, the Labor Code specifies the terms of employment, conditions, allowable hours of work and regulations of the type of work the child may be engaged. The Code prohibits discrimination against children in terms of employment conditions.

The Barangay-Level Total Development and Protection of Children Act, also known as the Day Care Law, provides for the establishment of a day care center in every barangay and the setting up of a program for total development of children 0-6 years old.

The Special Protection Act (R.A. 7610) provides protection for children in especially difficult circumstances, including those in situations of armed conflict, and those belonging to indigenous cultural communities. It defines and penalizes child abuse, exploitative employment of children, prostitution, and trafficking.

The National Manpower and Youth Council, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), operates 14 regional and 12 provincial manpower training centers which provide skills orientation, training and development, particularly to out-of-school youths.

Legal and Policy Framework
for the Philippine Educational System

The Philippine Constitution of 1987

Article II, Sec. 13
"The State recognizes the vital role of the youths in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs."

Article II, Sec. 17
"The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development."

Article XIV, Sec. 1
"The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all."

Article XIV, Sec. 2
"The State shall...establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age."

The State shall "...encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs..."

Article XV, Sec. 3
"The State shall defend...the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development..."

Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) for 1993-98:
Philippines 2000

The Philippine Plan of Action for Children (PPAC), the national action plan for Filipino children, was developed to translate the Philippine government's obligations to Filipino children as a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It forms part of the MTDP. The Child and Youth Welfare Code and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the Philippine Government in 1990, provide the legal bases for the PPAC, which states that:

"Filipino children should be helped to...develop into an alert and sufficiently skilled individual who is able to participate productively in Philippine society and be the inspired repository of Filipino culture."

The PPAC envisions for the Filipino children:

- Equality of opportunity, regardless of religion, cultural upbringing, regional origin, race, sex, education, skills, family background and political affiliation

- Free education, wholesome play and recreation, and time and place for leisure, sports and cultural activities

In terms of education: "The Filipino child has the right to education, and the Philippine government must ensure that primary and secondary education is made free and compulsory, with adequate provisions made to make participation universal, drop-out minimized if not entirely eliminated, and the required education is completed to ensure the achievement of simple and functional literacy at the highest degree possible."

In terms of child labor: "The Filipino child shall be protected from unreason-able demands for labor that is not paid commensurate to his output, be free from hazardous and exploitative labor, and be given time for education, leisure, recreation and cultural activities even within the work environment. The minimum age for child labor shall be set by the Philippine government, with the end in view of preventing undue exploitation as well as providing parents, especially the poor, the freedom to have the whole family labor collectively for the family's survival."

The goals and targets set by the MTDP for 1996-98 include the following long-term goals:

For early childhood development, access to early childhood care and development by 90 per cent of the preschool population

For basic education in elementary level, attainment of 100 per cent participation rate, improvement in cohort survival rate from 68.38 per cent in 1990 to 80 per cent by 2000, and improvement in achievement level from 64 per cent in 1990 to 75 per cent by 2000.

For literacy, increase in the literacy rate of out-of-school children and of parents from 89.9 per cent in 1990 to 98 per cent by 2000, increase in functional literacy rate of out-of-school children and of parents from 73.2 per cent in 1990 to 85 per cent by 2000, and reduction in the disparity between male child and female child literacy levels.

Education for All (EFA) Philippine Plan of Action

The EFA Plan, launched by President Corazon Aquino on December 4, 1991, is a "blueprint for national survival, containing the most urgent priorities for ensuring the full and uninterrupted development of the country's most important resource--the people." The EFA movement is anchored on the right of every human being to basic education. The EFA strategy seeks to address the problems of limited access to basic education for groups that are least served by the educational system and those who enter the system but drop out or are at high risk of dropping out before achieving the basic literacy and numeracy skills. They are often children in especially difficult circumstances.

Organizational Structure
of the Philippine Educational System

The Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) is the lead government agency responsible for fulfilling the constitutional mandate to provide free and compulsory primary education to all Filipino children. Starting 1994, all Filipino children aged six are admitted to Grade I, the first level in the six-year elementary education program. Four years of secondary education complete the ten-year formal education course required for admission to higher education, i.e., certificate courses and four- or five-year undergraduate courses in public or private colleges and universities, and subsequently to professional colleges and universities. Private elementary and secondary schools are required to register with the DECS and apply for government recognition and permits to operate. An accreditation system among private schools is also in place.

Early childhood education is not yet part of the formal education system but is provided through some preschools in public schools funded by the Parent-Teacher Associations, or recently through DECS Central Office for the poorest provinces of the country. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also provides early childhood care and development programs through the 21,000 day care centers in different barangays (villages) throughout the country. There are also private preschools and NGO-initiated community-based early childhood education programs. The Philippine government is in the process of planning a national early childhood development program that seeks to provide an integrated delivery system for health, nutrition and early education for the poorest children of the country. It will involve three government agencies already involved in servicing young children: the DECS, DSWD, and Department of Health.

The DECS administers the public school system from the central office through the regional (composed of several provinces), division (composed of a province) and district (composed of several municipalities) offices. Financial management and curriculum development, provision of learning materials and equipment continue to be centralized. However, with a recent shift in policy, the DECS is moving toward increasing the authority at the division or provincial level so that more direct lines of management from the central office to division offices will be activated. This is intended to prepare the school system for some form of decentralization where more decisions can be made at the levels closest to the schools, and eventually at the school level. Increased accountability at the school, district or division level is a goal of current educational reforms. Each municipality or city government has a Local School Board that functions in an advisory and supportive capacity to the district office.

The current reform in the educational system has been underway since 1991, based on recommendations of the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) following a study on the state of the Philippine educational system. The reorganization of DECS has shifted its primary responsibility to the supervision of the public elementary and secondary schools and of the non-formal educational programs. Vocational schools and institutions of higher learning are now under the supervision of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The main objective of this reorganization is to enhance the quality of education at the most basic levels and to insure that the goal of achieving equitable access to quality basic education is given due priority.

Costs of Philippine Public Education

The DECS Annual Report for 1995 cites an increase in its national budget from P52 billion in 1993 to P54.4 billion in 1994. This is actually only 10.81 per cent of the national budget, a decrease by almost 17 per cent compared to education's 27.5 per cent share of the budget in 1960 (1994 Philippine Statistical Yearbook).

While this represents an increase by almost P7 billion over four years (or an annual growth rate of almost 16 per cent), much of this has gone to salaries. Public expenditure for education has been erratic and generally low at 2.4 per cent of the GNP (DECS-TEEP 1995).

Real per capita spending is not commensurate to the demands of a responsive public education system, especially in light of the continuing growth in the child and youth population. Decades of underinvestment in public education had taken its toll on an already burdened system. The constantly growing needs of the public educational system merit a significantly larger investment in education.

1994 Allocation of Expenditures
Total: P362 Billion
embed MSGraph.Chart.5 \s  Allocation for Social Services, including education, for 1994
in selected Asian Countries
embed MSGraph.Chart.5 \s  
Source: Heaver and Hunt 1995

Actual Cost of Schooling
Mayette: Cost of schooling:

tuition fee (elementary school)
P 86.50
electric fan
daily school allowance
5.0 x 5 days x 40 weeks

bread 2.00 x 5 days x 40 weeks 400.00

tsamporado 3.00 x 5 days x 40 weeks 600.00

juice 1.50 x 5 days x 40 weeks 300.00

School supplies 780.50

uniforms 200.00 x 2 sets 400.00

notebooks 7.00 x 8 56.00

ballpens 5.00 x 10 pens 50.00
pencils 5.00 x 3 pencils 15.00

pad paper 25.00 x 5 pads 125.00

cartolina 6.00 x 3 pieces 18.00

manila paper 2.50 x 4 pieces 10.00

markers 25.00 x 2 pens 50.00

art paper 20.00 per pack 20.00

paste 5.00 5.00

adhesive tape 1.50 x 3 rolls 4.50

crayons 15.00 15.00

ruler, protractor 12.00 12.00
Cost of Mayette's schooling P 3,218.50
Family income:

Father's regular wages: P3,000.00/month x 12 months P 36,000.00

Average income of two children: P60.00/night x 30 x 12 months 21,600.00
Annual family income P 57,600.00
Less cost of schooling for 4 out of 7 children P3,218.50 x 4 12,874.00
(22.4 per cent)
Allocation for Food, Clothing and other basic and household expenses P 44,726.00

(P3,727.16 a month)
Cathelyn: Cost of schooling:

tuition fee 120.00/year P120.00

project 50.00 50.00

PTA fee 50.00 50.00

textbooks 50.00/book x 8 subjects

uniform 100.00 100.00

daily school allowance 10.00 x 5 days x 40 weeks 2,000.00
school supplies


I.D. 15.00 15.00

transportation --
Cost of Cathelyn's schooling P 3,515.50
Family income:

Mother's average income from washing clothes: P250.00/week x 4 weeks x 12 months P 12,000.00

Child's average income from selling sampaguita P60.00/night x 30 x 12 months P 21,600.00
Annual family income P 33,600.00
Less cost of schooling of 2 out of 3 children P3,515.50 x 2 7,031.00
(21 per cent)

Allocation for Food, Clothing and other basic and household expenses P 26,569.00
(P 2,214.00 a month)

Who is served by the Educational System?

Table 1: Selected School Enrollment Indicators SY 1990/91-SY 1993/94
Enrollment Type SY 1990-91 SY 1991-92 SY 1992-93 SY 1993-94 SY 1994-95
Public 397,364
165,997 no data
no data
no data no data
no data
no data 416,894
196,609 no data
no data
no data
Public 10,427,077
9,727,575 10,595,713
9,889,211 10,679,748
9,894,416 10,731,453
9,913,199 10,903,529
High School
Public 4,033,597
2,564,045 4,173,568
2,695,537 4,421,649
2,878,360 4,590,037
3,057,178 4,762,877
DECS Budget (million pesos)
Govt. Elem.
Govt. HS





(CWC, 1996)

Table 2: No. of Public/Private Schools for Elementary (SY 1992-1993)
Age Group Population Number of Schools Participation Rate

Pupils enrolled % of age group population
7-12 years old
Elementary 7,826,819
32,630 1,940 10,679,748 140 **
13-17 years old
Secondary 6,502,425

Public schools comprise the majority of schools in the preschool, primary and secondary levels, representing 69 per cent (1990), 94 per cent (1992) and 62 per cent (1992), respectively. However, these proportions do not extend to the enrollment figures. Private schools absorb 58 per cent (1990) of all preschoolers (mostly 4 to 6 years old). On the other hand, of total enrollment in elementary and secondary schools in SY 1992-1993, 93 per cent and 65 per cent were in government schools, respectively, indicating higher classroom-student ratios in public schools (UNICEF-GOP 1993).

From 1990 to 1995, with program assistance from UNICEF under the GOP-UNICEF Country Program for Children (CPC), the achievement of the following Mid-Decade Goals for Education was reported:

- Increase in elementary school participation rate to 92 per cent

Achievement: From 87 per cent in SY 1994-95, the national target of 92 per cent was attained the following school year, with 19 provinces attaining the full goal, 28 provinces achieving moderately, and 29 provinces achieving below 84 per cent.

- Increase in elementary school cohort survival rate to 72 per cent

Achievement: Of 76 provinces, 20 achieved full goal, and 24 lagged behind at less than 58 per cent. Of the national target of 72 per cent, the national situation was 67 per cent during SY 1994-95.

- Increase in literacy rate to 96.5 per cent

Achievement: The national situation was 94 per cent in 1990; 21 provinces fully attained the national target of 96 per cent, 48 provinces ranged from 80 to 95 per cent, and four provinces were below 80 per cent.

(Source: GOP-UNICEF Report on the MDG, Progress of the Provinces of the Philippines, August 1995)

Table 3: Selected Basic Education and Literacy Indicators (percentage)
1980 1985 1990 1994 1995 1995-96
Participation Rate:
Cohort Survival Rate:
Achievement Rate:
Literacy Rate:

With the implementation of the EFA Plan of Action in 1991, children aged 6 years old (previously seven) could enter Grade I. Improvement and expansion of multigrade classes in remote rural communities also became a focus toward completion of incomplete elementary schools. More attention was also given to non-formal education for children and women. These strategies aimed to improve access to educational programs.

The national cohort survival rate at the secondary level was slightly better at 76.41 per cent in SY 1990-91 compared to 73.9 per cent in SY 1980-81.

However, participation rates remained below national targets at 92.5 per cent for school enrollment. Of particular cause for concern are the cohort survival rates for elementary at 70.91 per cent and for secondary at 78.22 per cent. Although most children of school age enroll in Grade I, one of out three children drop out before completing elementary education. While the trend (see Table 3) shows a slight increase in cohort survival rate from 1994 to 1995/96 this is still below the national targets for year 2000. These figures for school completion are partly due to poor academic achievement and high rates of repetition. Significant amounts of public funds are wasted because of school failure and repetition. The little that is spent is thus not used cost-effectively.

Since drop-out rates between Grades I and II are higher than in any other grades, the EFA strategy and the PPAC both emphasize the need to invest more in early childhood development programs critical to laying a firm foundation for a child's participation in the formal school system.

It appears that, on the average, a child in school learns only half of the expected skills at each grade level. Furthermore, achievement rates appear to decline with higher grade levels. Grade I pupils learned the most with an average of 66 per cent; Grade VI pupils learned the least with an average of 49 per cent.

Combined with other indicators, such as the achievement levels for elementary (45.66 per cent) and secondary education (40.94 per cent) which continue to be below the standard achievement level at 75 per cent, there is clearly cause for concern. The Philippine educational system needs all the support it can mobilize to achieve the goals of quality education for all.

The following factors help to explain the current state of basic education in the Philippines, particularly the low cohort survival rates and low achievement levels:

--School-related factors affecting survival rates include inadequate facilities and instructional materials, overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers, lack of supervision and effective management at the levels closest to schools. The combination of these factors often makes schooling unattractive to the main participants: the students and the teachers.

Class size in public schools in urban areas and populous communities has risen to 60-70 pupils, partly to accommodate the increase in secondary students following legislation for free public high school education.

In 1993, the National Educational Testing and Research Center (NETRC) administered a National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) to all Grade VI pupils in public and private elementary schools. Analysis of the NEAT scores of 16,149 Grade VI pupils from 111 public schools revealed very low performance in four subject areas: English, Mathematics, Science and HEKASI (Geography, Civics and Culture).

This reflects the achievement levels of students who entered the school system in 1987. It is significant to note that these are the core subjects of the elementary school program. The learning of these subjects actually indicates the level of functional literacy of students who are in the final year of the elementary school program.

Since these pupils represent the majority of Filipino children, it is important to point out the following in relation to the results of the 1993 NEAT test:

First, three out of the four subjects where the pupils demonstrated poor achievement are taught in the English language (English, Math and Science). The Philippine educational system applies a bilingual policy of teaching. For children in public schools, English is only a secondary language and is not often spoken at home.

Second, on English, none of the reading and writing skills for Grade VI level were correctly answered, indicating a low level of functional literacy in English language. This has great implications for coping with the secondary school program.

Third, for Mathematics, the low scores in basic operations and problem solving, which are basic thinking skills required not only for Mathematics but also for Natural and Social Sciences, is also cause for concern.

Forty-eight percent of the elementary schools has no water supply and 61 per cent has no electricity. Most rural schools are badly in need of basic facilities and furniture.

The student-textbook ratio is 2:1 on a national level, but worse in the case of the poorest provinces and the congested schools in urban centers.

Teaching of Science and Mathematics subjects is impaired by the lack of teaching aids and equipment. Low-cost alternatives have not been fully explored. Investments in teacher-training on Science and Mathematics for primary grades have not been significant.

Lack of teachers because of decreased status of the teaching profession continues to be felt. To meet the goal of setting-up a complete elementary school in each barangay1 34,200 additional teachers are needed. This excludes the existing number of incomplete elementary schools in one-third of the country's barangays. Teachers are underpaid and overworked--often with class sizes beyond the acceptable limit of 46:1.

Remote rural communities have a heightened problem of access to schools. One-third of the public elementary schools in these areas is incomplete, offering only primary grades. Children have to walk to the next village to attend school beyond the third or fourth grade. Considerable distance to travel through rough or mountainous terrain combined with lack of food is enough to dissuade a family or a child from continuing schooling beyond the primary grade. It must be noted that most Filipino children who work are from these remote communities. The lack of schools combined with the need to work make it more difficult to begin to address the problem of not having access to the formal school system.

--Non-school related factors like family lifestyles requiring the child's participation in household work and income-generating activities, poverty, and the need for the child to work to augment family income or to be able to afford to stay in school have been cited as contributing factors. Other family-related factors include the educational attainment of parents and their attitude towards education. Family mobility related to economic needs and community life conditions (e.g., situations of armed conflict) also affect a child's schooling. There is also high turnover and mobility in congested urban poor communities.

Poor health and nutrition of children in poor urban and rural communities cause frequent absences that often lead to dropping out of school altogether as the child is unable to cope with the demands of school work.

Prolonged absences during planting or harvest season at the very least make it difficult for a child to cope with schoolwork. Students usually drop out during the months of August, September, October and January--all coinciding with planting and harvest seasons as the children have to work in the farms (Innotech 1995).

Ensuring access to basic education among urban poor children is becoming increasingly difficult. With the high incidence of poverty, the number of elementary and high school drop-outs and out-of-school children among the urban poor increased by about 30 per cent between 1980 and 1990. It is established that 87 per cent of children from households with per capita annual income of over P30,000 as of 1990 completes the primary grades, as against 57 per cent from those earning less than P10,000 (ILO 1994).

The cost of keeping a child in school increases in the latter stages of education. This forces a large proportion of the poor, particularly males, to drop out. Drop-out rates in secondary schools are highest in rural and remote communities and regions. More often, the choice to drop out is made to enable those in late childhood to engage in income-generating activities to contribute to family subsistence.

In 1994, there were approximately 4.85 million out-of-school youths (13-16 years old) in the country, with 50 per cent in the national capital region (FLEMMS 1994). Compared to the number of public secondary schools, the current system is not really in a position to absorb the number of out-of-school youths at the moment. Other alternatives must be explored through non-formal systems and by improving the options for vocational education.


Socio-cultural Factors/Practices Affecting
School Enrollment and Attendance

The interactive relationship of so-called "school-related and non-school related factors" in evaluating the issues and problems confronting the Philippine educational system must be understood within the context of the Filipino family and the challenges it faced in the past decade that was marked by economic and political crises. All these must be considered within the context of changes brought about by time, communication and other technologies, migration patterns, urbanization and industrialization.

The family has an important educational function. Education, viewed in its broadest sense as socialization, is the primary means for initiating and sustaining an individual's participation in society as a fully functioning human being. From early childhood, a family member is taught the values, customs, traditions, and "proper" way of doing things. S/he learns basic skills and attitudes necessary for successful participation in a group. A person's shortcomings or mistakes are often attributed to the quality of child-rearing, and parents in particular are blamed for not teaching him/her properly (Medina 1991).

Long before a six- or seven-year-old enters Grade I, the family members have already contributed significantly to a child's education. This is true whether the child is born to a poor or to a wealthy family. A child's attitudes toward people and the environment are heavily influenced by the quality of early childhood experiences. If a young child grows within a supportive environment and basic needs are provided from birth through the first six years, the chances of healthy growth and development from the middle years of childhood onwards are significantly increased.

Data from the Philippines indicate that the occupational and educational level of parents affects the school achievement of children (Smith and Cheung 1986). Family background definitely affects a child's learning capability in school. Children from homes that are caring, supportive and stimulating (with objects to explore and manipulate) consistently learn more quickly than children who come from deprived and unsupportive environments.

In poor families, especially in rural areas, children's labor is often critical to the income or survival of the household. Children who work have little or no time to attend school. In the Philippines 15 per cent of boys and 9 per cent of girls in rural areas must work as paid labor and therefore cannot attend school. Another 63 per cent works in unpaid agricultural labor, which also affect school attendance (King 1981 in Verspoor and Lockheed 1992).

It has always been assumed that Filipino parents place a high premium on formal schooling, and education is seen as a passport to a better life because it assures one of a well-paying job. This assumption may no longer be applicable to the millions of Filipino families living below the poverty line, to which the fruits of economic policies have not trickled down and which continue to be deprived of basic social services like housing, water and sanitation, education and health. There are indications that more and more Filipino families in recent years are unable to realize their aspirations, with poverty as the reason often cited.

In 1991, 44.5 per cent of the population was living below poverty line. The urban slum and squatter population make up about 17 per cent of total population and 40 per cent of urban population.

Despite the Philippine education being tuition-free, there are added costs to schooling, such as food (for snacks or lunch), school supplies, uniforms, materials for projects, additional books, contributions for special projects and activities. In many cases, transportation is also an added expense, especially when there is a need to commute to the next village.

A family may have met these additional costs in the past, but this may no longer be true at present with the constantly increasing costs of the items needed to stay in school. Studies on working children in the Philippines indicate that schooling itself may be a contributing factor to an increase in child labor at age 7, which was formerly the age of entry into the formal school system (ILO 1994). Many children work outside the home precisely to be able to afford these additional expenses.

A PSSC2 study found that school participation varied across cities but was generally high even among street children living on their own. While they entered schools, very few completed schooling. Children in all cities were officially behind in grade level. Many of them once or several times interrupted their schooling for job-related reasons or because of illness, accident, poverty, or unpleasant classroom incidents. Some students could not afford to pay tuition, school uniforms, school materials, or the food (snack or lunch). Many had to work to augment their household income (Porio, Moselina and Swift in Szanton-Blanc 1994).

There is an increasing demand for children to assist their parents in providing for the family's day to day needs and in running the household, e.g., caring for younger siblings, doing household chores like fetching water and running errands. In rural communities, the additional factor of inaccessible schools and a school calendar that does not coincide with the cycles of agricultural life add to the risk of a child dropping out or being unable to cope or learn in the formal school because of erratic attendance or lack of time to make up for lost time in school.

A similar situation exists in urban communities despite the relatively easier access to schools. There is the higher cost of living to contend with, and the faster-paced lifestyle with increased pressure to conform with the spending habits or acquisition patterns of everyone else around. There are greater chances of giving formal education less priority since there are additional expenses which, when weighed against the short-term needs of the family, make the prospect of potential long-term benefits from formal schooling less attractive.

While some children are able to combine work with schooling, there is a problem about the quality of their participation in school with the decreased time for homework, recreation, leisure and, above all, rest. Given the large class size in most elementary schools, there is less opportunity to provide support to children who need extra attention and guidance. If parents are able to provide this extra help at home, the child may be able to cope up and his or her chances for success in school improve. But if parents, for varied reasons, are unable to provide this support, then the chances of failure in school are high.

The pressures of family survival or of improving a family's socio-economic status, combined with the parents' own attitudes toward education, ultimately determine whether or not a child will be able to stay in school despite the limited financial resources of the family.

While the achievement of goals for child survival has evidently improved significantly, many children are still ill-prepared to face the demands of middle childhood schooling, socialization and overall development because of malnutrition, illness, poor health, and inadequate or unconducive growth environments. The lack of support system to foster their optimum emotional, intellectual and psychosocial development during infancy and early childhood contributes to a wide range of socio-economic problems affecting them in later years of childhood. It is not surprising that they enter the formal school system with learning problems and difficulties that in turn affect their interaction with teachers and other authority figures in school. The current structures of the formal school system are not appropriate to respond to these special needs of children entering school for the first time, already disadvantaged by the lack of opportunities for development of cognitive, language and other school readiness skills ideally provided during early childhood years.


The Filipino Child, 15 and Under: Home, School and Work

Based on the 1995 census, about 31.74 million Filipinos are under age 18. Of the total child population, 11.4 million are 0-6 years old, 12.56 million are 6-12 years old, and 7.78 million are 13-18 years old (CWC 1996).

Based on figures for school participation rates, most Filipino children (89.02 per cent) aged 7 to 12 are enrolled in elementary school, but only 61.20 per cent of 13-16-year-olds are enrolled in secondary schools. (Source: NSO, FLEMMS 1994)

The 1994 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), a national survey, reports that there were about 4,685,000 from the 6-14 age group who were out-of-school in 1994. Of these, two million were males and 2.6 million were females; 2.1 million lived in urban areas and 2.5 million in rural areas.

Breakdown of Child Population According to Age Group
Total Population: 31.74 million
embed MSGraph.Chart.5 \s   Source: 1995 Census

A third of those who were out-of-school did not complete any grade level at all or attended only preschool. One-fourth completed high school and one-fifth completed elementary school.

Child labor in the Philippines refers to the illegal employment of children below 15 years old, or of those below 18 years old in hazardous occupations (ILO Comprehensive Report on Child Labour).

While poverty is acknowledged as a major factor in the child labor situation in the country, other contributing factors are identified. Decision factors in the household and community (microscopic) include: (1) socialization into work, (2) support for child's work in formal education, (3) family expectations from the child, (4) peer influence, (5) educational aspirations, (6) community opportunities for child's work, and (7) favorable outlook on the working child. The macroscopic context of child labor, on the other hand, is traced to certain global, economic and socio-cultural conditions and to state policies (ILO 1994).

Child laborers, male and female, are found in agriculture, industry, services, and trade sectors. Male child laborers are usually in non-domestic occupations like wood-working, fishing, hauling, scavenging and newspaper selling. Female child laborers are commonly into domestic work, sidewalk vending, and in industries requiring skillful use of the fingers, such as embroidery, sewing, and doormat making. Many male and female children, especially streetchildren, are also trapped in sex trade.

Child laborers come from large households, often a nuclear family with 7-15 members. On the average, two household members are employed, but the combined household average earnings is P1,000 per month.

Most working children are in school. Most are repeaters, drop-outs for a year or two, returning only when family finances allowed. School participation varies in relation to age, gender, nature of work, accessibility of school, and degree of impoverishment of their households.

Trends in Child Labor

Incidence of child labor has been slowly increasing since 1980, at an annual rate of 3.8 per cent.

In 1995, around 3.7 million of the 22.4 million children from ages 5 and 17 were employed. 1.8 million belonged to ages 5-14 with 217,561 between ages 5-9 years old. 64 per cent was in agriculture, 16.4 per cent in sales, 9.2 per cent in production work and 8.8 per cent in service trades. The majority (60 per cent) was in unpaid family work in their own households and establishments.17.2 per cent work in their own homes while 53 per cent work in family farms. (NSO National Survey of Working Children, July, 1995)

In 1990, 26 per cent of children aged 15-17 was found working. Males made up 62.7 per cent of all working children, though the proportion of females has increased steadily from 35.9 per cent in 1980 (UNICEF-GOP 1992).

In 1991, about 1.4 million children aged 10-14 were employed. In general, the number of working children fluctuates greatly in relation to the school year. There is normally a sharp increase in the employment of children 10-17 years old during the second quarter of the year. During school breaks, more children are found either working full time or desirous to work (UNICEF-GOP 1993).

About 85 per cent of child workers is in rural areas working for large plantations, foreign and local fish trawlers, and vegetable and rice farms. Those in the urban areas may be found in retail trade, services, and manufacturing. Child laborers in manufacturing are often found in small-scale enterprises.

There are about 1.5 million urban working children and street children. About 80 per cent of streetchildren may be classified as working children. Studies in 10 Philippine cities (1980s) report that streetchildren comprised between 1 per cent and 3 per cent of the child and youth population. Between 50,000 to 75,000 are in Metro Manila. In regional urban centers, such as metropolitan Cebu and Davao, they number from 3,000 to 5,000. The age of streetchildren ranges from 8 to17 years, with the average at 12 years. They spend most of their waking hours on the streets, often in gainful though potentially hazardous economic activities, such as vending, scavenging, begging and car watching.

The majority of streetchildren live with their families. A significant minority maintains sporadic family contact. The rest have little or no contact at all with their families and are totally on their own. It is this last group whose needs and isolation are most acute.

It is estimated that there are 60,000 to 75,000 streetchildren and street-based working children in Metro Manila. If children working in factories, "job-outs" in homes, commercial and retail activities and domestic-based industries were included, this number could easily exceed 200,000 (Szanton-Blanc 1994).

Table 4: Streetchildren as a percentage of Child and Youth Population (selected cities, 1988)
Urban child and youth population Estimated # of street children Percentage Angeles 71,104 3,000 2.40 Baguio 63,066 800-1,500 1.2-2.38 Davao 208,180 2,600 1.25 Iloilo 102,687 2,500-3,000 2.43-2.92 Metro Manila 3,027,925 50,000-75,000 1.65-2.48 Olongapo 97,674 2,408 2.47
Source: Szanton-Blanc 1994

Table 5: Urban children living with one or both parents or on their own
(different cities in selected years)
Year Sample size Living with one or both parents (%) Living on their own (%) Baguio 1988 92.8 7.2 Cebu 1986 302 37 45 Iloilo 1988 58 42 Metro Manila 1991 208 90 10 Olongapo 1991 40 85 15 Davao 1991 50 94 6
Source: Szanton Blanc 1994

The McGuire survey conducted in Cebu sought to establish children's educational attainment rather than attendance. The most striking finding of the survey, which involved a higher percentage of children not living with their families compared to the PSSC study cited earlier, was that 21 per cent of the respondents had never attended school. The majority was girls (40 per cent compared to 19 per cent of boys); 64 per cent managed to finish Grade IV, but was unlikely to continue beyond this level. In contrast, the PSSC study found in the Manila sample that more girls than boys were in school. The majority of both street children and street-based working children was also studying (58 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively). Working children who have been involved in a participatory action research program, and streetchildren who have been involved in the National Street Children Project, also combine work and schooling and consider this the best option for them (Szanton Blanc 1994).

Table 6: Profile of Street Children and Street-based Working Children
Children not living in
family (street children) Children living in family (street-based working children) Current schooling status in school 58 70 out of school 42 30 Schooling interrupted one or more times in the past
61 Grade level when schooling interrupted 1-3 68 45 4-6 26 34 high school 6 18 Combines street-based work with schooling
57 Children's main aspirations for next 5 years finish studies 80 46 work/find a decent job 14 31 get rich/have a bright future 10 9 Children's main aspirations for next 10 years work/find a decent job 53 83 finish studies 10 15 get rich/have a bright future 10 8 Believe aspirations can be achieved mainly if finish studies 43 44 persevere 30 30 work hard 13 8
(Source: PSSC 1991)

Most children surveyed by the PSSC study were recruited and socialized into their street careers by their fathers, brothers, mothers, grandparents and other relatives who were themselves vendors, hawkers or scavengers. About 60 per cent of all working children claimed to have employers, who were usually acquaintances, relatives or friends (Szanton-Blanc 1994). This is an example of what the experiences and stories of working children confirm: child labor is part of the circle of life for children and parents born into poverty.

Table 7: Employment profiles of street children and street-based working children (in percentages, 1991)
Children not living in family (street children) Children living in family (working children) Mean age 12.5 years 12.7 years Gender: male 63 67 female 37 33 Also studying 58 70 Age started working range 3-13 years 4-18 years mean 10.5 11.4 Main reason for working insufficient household income 73 61 Main kinds of current work vending 50 48 scavenging 33 20 washing cars 8 7 begging 3 7 Employment type currently self-employed 40 41 with employer (mostly piece rate or daily rate) 60 59 Employment type at first job self-employed 63 60 with employer 37 40 Mean earnings P28 P60 Child contributes to family income yes 85 96 no 15 4 Money earned used mostly for household expenses 30 28 school 23 21 food 17 39 Main leisure activities going to the cinema 26 21 none 22 16 playing 22 16 reading comics 11 -- listening to the radio 7 10 telling stories -- 13
(Source: PSSC 1991)

Children in the Metro Manila and Cebu City samples (PSSC 1991) began working on the street as early as four years of age. Initiation into full-time work usually occurred through a combination of circumstances, for example when the child did poorly in school, or when there was an urgent need for another breadwinner in the family. In both cases, the child and his or her parents thought the situation was temporary.

Regardless of working arrangements, children generally earn less than P60 per day. Streetchildren earn even less. Children are paid much less than the adults for the same work (Szanton Blanc 1994).

In certain areas, contributions of children to monthly household income are practically equal to those of adults. Adult minimum earnings are either the same or almost the same as the child's. But the highest pay of a child is, across all cities, much lower than the highest pay of an adult. It is also systematically lower for lone streetchildren and for girls.

The majority of urban poor households earn below the poverty line and spend most of their earnings on food and shelter. The child's income usually helps pay for food; it may also be used for matches or cooking fuel, or for the child's school allowance. Poor households are known to spend more than they earn and have to borrow money from "informal sources," usually at very high interest rates (Szanton Blanc 1972; Jimenez and Chiong-Javier 1992).

Table 8: Range and mean monthly incomes of Metro Manila households (1990)
Child Adult Combined

Income range
Mean income
% of combined income Income range
Mean income
% of combined income Mean income
% of poverty threshold
Manila 10-1680 421.60 30 50-4500 965.67 70 1386 51
Q.C. 20-1950 690 45 20-3000 836.82 55 1526 56
Caloocan 10-940 102 40 20-2800 152 60 254 9
Pasay 40-900 610 27 100-4500 1650 73 2260 84

(Source: PSSC 1991)


They Who Are Excluded: We Do Not Belong

The cycle of poverty, discrimination and disenfranchisement from access to basic social services and full participation in governance have been perpetuated throughout several generations of indigenous cultural communities. Children of cultural communities are usually not adequately reached by basic services such as health and education. If these services are provided at all, there are few attempts to make provisions for cultural differences. School curricula based on and reflective of the norms and qualities of the dominant lowland culture lead to confusion and conflict because of a lack of recognition of the importance of the cultural identity of children of indigenous cultural communities.

For example, among the Aetas of Pinatubo who now live in resettlement sites in Tarlac or Zambales province in Central Luzon, there are recurring incidence of dropping-out of school by 7 to 10 year olds because they do not feel welcome, or have experienced embarrassment through ridicule by classmates and teachers. They also have difficulty coping with the demands of formal school as it was their first time in school. Many of their parents are illiterate, or have not completed elementary school; thus, they are unable to assist their children with schoolwork.

Children in the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon or in the southern cultural communities often do not have access to schools. They live in distant communities not easily accessible by land transport, or which do not meet the required number of children needed to set up a school with a full-time teacher. Among the UNICEF-assisted projects were two programs specifically designed to address the needs of some indigenous communities. The Mobile Teaching Program was initiated in Ifugao province to provide an alternative form of education for children. In the south, a training program was initiated for teachers from the cultural communities so that they would be able to live and work among their own communities. To a large extent the multigrade teaching program is also potentially responsive to the needs of children of indigenous communities who are all in rural areas. However, a systematic approach to include their culture within the formal school curriculum is still needed.

In some cases, even if there is a school in the village, children had to stay home to take care of their younger siblings, or they had to bring them to school as both parents worked in the farm. An appropriate response has been the setting up of child-minding centers adjacent to the public schools.

Many of them are at high-risk of exploitative and hazardous forms of child labor, such as vegetable farming, stone quarrying, gold mining, muro-ami fishing.

In many cases, the problem of the indigenous children is compounded by the presence of armed conflict in their areas. Understandably, teachers do not want to be assigned in such areas. So even if a school building and basic furniture are available, it is unlikely that a teacher could be found to work in that area. Families affected by armed conflict are often unable to return to their original homes. Even in their original place, it is unlikely that they have a fully functioning public school.


High-Risk Children: High Stakes of Young Lives
and a Whole Future

The urban poor live in shanty towns under some of the most intolerable and subhuman conditions. In general, there is a lack of basic facilities such as water, sewerage and garbage disposal. People live in congested quarters with hardly any privacy. In these areas, there is increased vulnerability to crime and gang conflicts, substance and alcohol abuse, gambling, and infections borne by an unhealthy environment.

Street life is harsh and children are vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation. Some fall into substance abuse at an early age. Others are recruited into illegal activities, commonly prostitution and petty thievery. Some have had experience with formal schooling, but most have not completed or gone beyond elementary school.

Working children are exposed to specific health risks. Among the most physically exacting for children is agricultural work. It is especially difficult for them to be protected from the demanding forms of work because they are part of the family contract work system. They may sometimes take over when parents are unable to do the work themselves. This is usually the case in sugarcane farms in Negros, and in ricefields and vegetable farms in Luzon and the Visayas. Farming communities are also the least served by the government's basic social services. They have less access to schools, health stations and other forms of services, e.g., credit schemes for income-generating or livelihood projects. Children in these communities are the invisible hands that till the lands, the invisible "unenrolled" who may never be counted in the educational statistics.

Children who work in mining and quarrying--on their own or with their parents--are the most vulnerable in terms of health and nutritional risks and are the least likely to be reached by any educational program, even non-formal education, at the current level of program coverage. One reason is simply the absence of programs in the areas. In addition, which is the more challenging reality, parents will not necessarily be supportive of any aspiration by a child to enter formal schools because that will interfere with his or her full-time work. This attitude arises from the absence of a viable alternative to the child's current source of income.

Another group least likely to have any access to formal and non-formal educational programs is the sexually exploited children in urban centers and rural resort towns where tourism-related services are the main source of income. Those who live in towns with beach resorts may be able to stay in school when it is not peak season, assuming they still live with their families. If they are migrants and are on their own, they most probably will not have access to any educational programs. This is an area for further study.

The number of sexually exploited or prostituted children nationwide was estimated in 1986 at 20,000. NGO estimates in 1992 place the number at around 40,000 (ECPAT 1994).

Sexually exploited children are found mostly in the major cities, particularly Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. There is also a high incidence of prostitution of children in Olongapo City and Angeles City, the former rest and recreation sites for US military and naval servicemen. These children are most vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and are predisposed to HIV/AIDS infection. Many face the risks of addiction and of physical harm by perverted clients. Their continuous exposure to the streets, unhealthy environment and irregular working hours result in poor health and nutrition.

Street children are at highest risk of substance abuse because it easily becomes part of their lifestyle as a coping mechanism. The mean age of drug dependent youths is 15. They are often single males from urban poor families, abused as children, school drop-outs. The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has reported that parents of these children are usually the ones who have pushed their children to the streets to earn money. With parental abuse and street hazards afflicting these children, it becomes easy for these children to succumb to peer influence and resort to drugs as an escape valve.

A DDB study showed that 54 per cent of street children sniff volatile substances. They prefer "rugby" (glue), followed by solvent, which they get from hardware stores and shoe repair shops. Other common substances of abuse are marijuana, cough syrup and stimulants.

In 1991, a survey of out-of-school youths aged 13-21 from selected provinces showed that 16 per cent admitted having abused drugs on occasion.

One grave consequence of drug abuse is the tendency to resort to crime to support the habit. The DDB study also showed that 40 per cent of respondents who had been into drugs have been involved in such activities as stealing and prostitution.

DDB reports showed that in the past five years, there has been a steady increase in the number of drug dependents 19 years old or less who are confined in rehabilitation institutions.

Risks and threats presented by the city environment are differentiated by occupation, age and gender. Certain areas of the city pose higher risks than others. These risks increase when children pursue their activities alone. Thus, a particular streetcorner or area may be frequented more by extortionists, gamblers and drinkers, or more carefully patrolled by police authorities. Even if two children engage in the same activity, the locus, their work relations, and the presence or absence of peer, family or adult support can generate different levels of risks and needs. For example, the risks a scavenger runs, apart from being occupation-specific, vary according to age, gender, family support, peer network, areas scavenged, and business relationship with the scrap buyer. A child's progress from selling flowers or cigarettes to selling drugs or his/her body is influenced by adults, syndicates or merely by the opportunity to earn "quick money." Working conditions and family situation are the most important variables in influencing whether a child has the appropriate support to resist this progression (Szanton Blanc 1994).

Children trapped in full-time labor under hazardous and exploitative conditions in various workplaces, sometimes with their families but often on their own, are the least likely to be reached by any form of educational programs. The first step is to locate them, rescue them, and begin the long and challenging process of family rehabilitation and helping them rebuild their lives. Special education programs that do not deprive them of the sense of power and control over their lives, despite their exploitative life conditions as workers, will be necessary. It will not simply be a matter of rescuing them and putting them back in school.


Systems and Policies

Aware of the problem of child labor, the government is making efforts to minimize, if not eradicate, its ill effects. Legislation, executive orders, attendant policy guidelines and direct action programs seeking to eliminate exploitative child labor in the country are being implemented (UNICEF-GOP 1993).

A legislative and policy framework for the protection of working children exists. However, there is a continuing need to actively enforce the laws and strictly implement policies and guidelines through programs and services. The lack of effective monitoring mechanisms, of personnel and other resources, and of coordination among concerned agencies are among the deterrents to the full implementation of laws and policies to protect the children, to help them complete their schooling while working, or to prevent them from dropping out of school in favor of full-time work.

Among parents and employers, there continues to be inadequate information on and understanding of the difference between exploitative forms of child labor and productive work that is part of a child's socialization process within the family and community. Thus, these socio-cultural factors, combined with poverty, are the most difficult obstacles to overcome in the efforts to protect the rights of children.

Despite a provision in the Labor Code protecting children up to 17 years old from any hazardous occupation, violations continue. In Davao, children 13-14 years old carry heavy sacks of sand from the mountains or work in gold mines. In Cebu, children work with pyrotechnics and in stone quarries. In Central Luzon and in Negros, children work long hours in ricefields or vegetable farms. In Benguet and Mountain Province, children carry heavy loads of vegetables through mountain trails or work with pesticides in vegetable farms. In Bulacan, children carry heavy loads of fresh rattan, or work in pyrotechnic production in factories and in their own homes. In Sulu, children are paid to dive in deep waters to assist fishing vessels.

While the principles and legal instruments to address child labor are in place, links between this problem and education are yet to be established through actual programs. Only a few non-formal education programs seem to provide the opening for working children.

There has been a tendency to identify schooling or universal education as the primary solution to the complex problems of child labor in the Philippines. There must be a reconsideration of the relationship between universal elementary schooling and child labor. Since colonial times, child labor has been in existence despite the introduction of the public school system. It is a more complex relationship than simply making schools available because sometimes there are more compelling factors that cause a child to work under exploitative conditions, and there are also other reasons for leaving school and choosing to work.

This requires serious rethinking because evidence shows that schooling itself may contribute to an increase in the incidence of child labor. If the solution is to make sure that all children stay in school to address the problem of child labor, without a careful analysis of the school-related factors that actually account for dropout or low survival rates, it will not be a long-lasting solution. It is important to address the child and family-related factors alongside the school-related factors in assessing and responding to the educational needs of working children. The solution must clearly address the interactive nature of all these factors because experiences in the Philippines demonstrate the limitations of such an approach to the problems of children, especially those in difficult circumstances. Successful programs have always considered the full context within which children and their families struggle for survival and development.


Government and NGOs: Working Together from Advocacy and Policy to Programs and Services

The DOLE sees to it that the rights of workers are protected and their welfare promoted. It leads the inter-agency Child Labor Project. The Council for the Welfare of Children coordinates the implementation and enforcement by the Executive Department of all laws related to the promotion of child and youth welfare. Intergovernmental organizations like the ILO and UNICEF have been supporting government and NGO programs that address the needs of working children.

The government in cooperation with non-government and international organizations has implemented a number of child labor programs with components ranging from awareness raising, policy advocacy, social mobilization, community organizing, and delivery of basic and alternative services, including non-formal education, value formation, research, and institution/capability building. However, most of these programs have been oriented toward welfare, with strategies that do not necessarily alter the conditions of the children (ILO 1994).

The ILO Comprehensive Report on Child Labor (1994) gives a number of recommendations for consideration in the formulation of a national program of action on child labor:
1. the need to beef up the knowledge base on child labor;
2. the need to reorient the policy and legal framework to focus on child workers below 15 years old and on those in agriculture, small industries, domestic work settings and other hazardous occupations;
3. the need for more concrete legislative policies and implementation guidelines toward eventual abolition of child labor and immediate protection of children employed in hazardous industries;
4. the need to strengthen policies for full, free and compulsory basic education of children;
5. the need for more active advocacy and information campaigns on child labor;
6. the need to pursue and strengthen community-based strategies; and
7. the need for a multi-agency committee to oversee the implementation of a plan of action on child labor.

The NGO Coalition for Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

In 1993, the Philippine NGO Coalition for Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was organized. The coalition is composed of child-focused NGOs which realize the need for a systematic effort to monitor the implementation of the UN convention.

It was the scheduled submission of the Philippine government's report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that gave impetus to the organization of the coalition. The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), a coordinating agency tasked to monitor the implementation of the UN convention and the PPAC, convened a consultation with child-focused NGOs where observations, comments and reservations on the government report were articulated. The participants conceptualized and began the process of organizing the Philippine NGO Coalition, inspired by the experiences of other countries, particularly in Latin America.

Working committees were formed, and lead organizations were identified to assume responsibility for such immediate tasks as organization, research, and drafting of the concept paper on the NGO Coalition.

Initially, the immediate objective was to study more deeply the government report submitted to the UN Committee and to work on a separate report by the NGO Coalition, also for submission to the UN Committee. One important goal of the NGO Coalition is to develop and implement a serious and well-coordinated mechanism to monitor the implementation of the UN convention.

Another current concern of coalition members is the issue of partnership with the government. Its decentralization offers many opportunities for NGO participation. Defining the partnership with government agencies at the national, regional, provincial and municipal levels requires careful consideration for maintaining NGO autonomy and independence so that the NGO Coalition can serve as a watchdog and influence policy-making and monitoring processes.

National Project for Street Children (1986-present)

The implementing agencies of this project are the DSWD and the National Council for Social Development (NCSD). The seeds of this project were sown in 1984 when UNICEF hosted the visit to the Philippines of William Myers, a consultant on Latin American streetchildren. Myers in turn arranged a visit to Brazil by key DSWD workers, the NCSD, and UNICEF to study governmental and non-governmental programs. They developed a proposal that became the National Project for Street Children, which began in April 1986 and developed initially in eigh t c i t i e s .

O b j e c t i v e s


The major strategies are advocacy, social mobilization, situation analysis, support for direct services programs, and organizing and enhancing capabilities of families, children, youth and inter-agency working committees/networks at the city and municipal levels to assume collective responsibility for streetchildren. Other strategies are:
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Program responses can be classified as: center-, street- and community-based services.

Center-based services: Centers or institutions either offer sustained services for child residents or provide a mix of services, like drop-in or temporary shelters, hot meals, counseling or first aid. Although institutionalization permits the close monitoring of children and is particularly useful as an initial response to abandoned children, it is expensive and under-utilizes the potential contribution of parents, families and their communities. Consequently, since the late 1980s, there has been a shift to community-based initiatives.

Community-based services: As the majority of children on the street have parents and homes to return to, many studies have recognized the importance of community-based approaches to address the disadvantages of parents and communities. Programs include community organization, housing, early childhood development, women's education, nutrition and feeding, livelihood training and medical services. The programs emphasize on the capacity of urban poor communities to deal with many aspects of their own situation.

Street-based services: Outreach workers go to the children's place of work to talk to them, identify their problems and start to find ways to solve them. One such initiative, the Brother/Sister Program for Street Children in Davao, Olongapo, Manila, Iloilo and Pasay offers counseling, tutorial sessions, medical services, and organized soup kitchens. This approach was later adopted in other cities. In Cebu, street education has been expanded from mere tutorial sessions to so-called street schools. An example is a fenced-in corner in Carbon Market where a sister holds lessons for the children of vendors, hawkers and laborers and runs a soup kitchen to ensure that children's nutritional needs are met.

Training of street educators has become an important program supported by the NPSC. Because street and working children are often afraid of being victimized by the police, security guards and extortionists, the presence on the street of a "gabay" (guide, big brother or sister) gives these children a much-valued sense of security.

Street-based programs are able to reach more children than center-based activities, at about one-fourth the cost per child. They do not, however, replace support networks in neighborhoods, communities and agencies, but rather complement their efforts.

The NPSC has reached 30 per cent of the estimated 85,000 street children in 17 cities in 1989; 27 per cent of the children in Metro Manila, and 39 per cent in the other 13 cities. Of the services available as of 1989-90, 54 per cent was community-based, 34 per cent was center-based, and 12 per cent was street-based. By 1990, there was a noted increase in the number of streetchildren reached by health, nutrition, education, and cultural and recreational programs, while there was actually a decrease in the number of children registered in temporary shelters or placed in foster care compared to children in drop-in centers.

Partly in response to studies by UNICEF Manila and UNICEF International Child Development Center, program thrusts in most cities continue to shift to community- and street-based interventions. Greater effort has also been made to focus on preventive programs aiming to address rapid population growth, insecurity of housing and tenure, inadequacy of urban basic services, and other issues at the root of the streetchildren phenomenon.

Most program actors have realized that meeting the immediate needs of CEDC and the poor through assistance in accessing food, education, shelter and income requires both short-term programs for immediate needs (lone street children) and long-term programs for the majority of street-based children who are still living with their families, as well as for "hidden categories" of children. Helping streetchildren gain access to shelter will not contribute much unless training, livelihood and credit assistance are also provided. Similarly, unless squatting is decriminalized, assistance at the community level will only have limited impact. Delivery of social and medical services cannot be sustained when homes are being demolished (Szanton Blanc 1994).



This section describes educational programs that respond to the needs of specific groups of working children, such as (1) those who live and work with their families in rural communities, and (2) those who live and work with their families or are practically on their own in urban centers. Most examples chosen were public programs because they were expected to be implemented on a relatively larger scale and, therefore, should reach more children compared to private or NGO-run programs.

The purpose of including them as examples is to provide opportunities for discussion and reflection on the lessons to be learned from their success and shortcomings so that more working children can be reached and those who are at risk of being exploited can be found and immediately assisted.

It must be clarified that not all the programs selected as examples were specifically designed for working children, but the authors included them because they are implemented in the poorest provinces and remote rural communities where child work continues to be part of the family's survival mechanism.

There are programs jointly undertaken by NGOs and government agencies at the local level. While these programs may not have the potential to reach a large number of children, they offer lessons for other programs that may be designed for working children. The SABANA project has been included as an example of this type of program.

Finally, there is a program that will surely raise important questions about implementation of international and national standards for protecting children from exploitative and hazardous forms of labor. For example, a public school district initiative involving a supervised, school-based "work-study" program, which includes a stage of preparation for pyrotechnics production, could be misconstrued as approval of the participation of children in the pyrotechnic industry. However, the project was included because it is an example of a school district assuming responsibility for the welfare of children. It must be seen as a stage in the long and challenging process of protecting working children and of eliminating child labor. The process of working together with other sectors involved in addressing child labor issues and of continuing partnerships will in fact assist all participants in broadening and clarifying the principles, strategies and approaches.

Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) Programs

These programs are implemented by the Bureau of Nonformal Education (BNFE) of the DECS. At present, the BNFE has no existing program designed specifically to address the educational needs of working children simply because of lack of allocation. Although the BNFE tries to accommodate child workers within its existing programs on literacy and alternative education, these are not sufficient to address their special needs as a group. For example, although some child workers benefit from programs for out-of-school youth, studies show that only about 20 per cent of the total number of working children is out of school. Thus, the program does not respond to the needs of 80 per cent of the working children.

Two BNFE programs, the Functional Education and Literacy Program (FELP) under the Literacy Division and the Alternative Learning System (ALS) under the Continuing Education Division (CED), show potential as models for designing specific interventions for the working child.

Functional Education and Literacy Program (FELP)

The FELP was designed to respond to lower literacy level needs, as follows:
Level 1: illiterates
Level 2: neoliterates (can read, write and understand simple messages)
Level 3: elementary level self-learning literates

The FELP's priority targets are out-of-school and adult illiterates aged 15-39. (Children aged 15 and below are not included because they fall under the responsibility of the formal educational system.) Second and third priority groups are ages 40-59 and ages 60 and above.

Focus is on functional literacy (the participants can make use of what they have learned, can directly apply them to everyday activities). Therefore, while basic literacy and numeracy are learned, the content of the modules also equip them with relevant livelihood skills by starting from where they are and through flexible, experience-based activities. The program becomes a literacy cum livelihood skills development program.

The current concentration of activities is on prototype literacy materials development. The prototypes are exemplar modules that can be adapted to particular communities to suit their needs, culture and language. The skills included in the modules were a result of a survey that assessed the needs of particular communities. Thus, clients from a fishing community will most likely use the module entitled "Magmanukan Tayo" which teaches measurement, counting, basic operations, reading and writing while at the same time teaching the participant how to set up and run a poultry farm.

In 1996, several prototypes were developed in the communities of Sorsogon and Cotabato to ensure responsiveness to the needs of similar communities and to make revising easier.

Additional modules include current issues and concerns to increase national awareness, e.g., the national centennial celebration.

Aside from printed modules, other materials available are videos on effective approaches to teaching literacy, and audio cassettes that complement the modules.

Implementation at the local level is done through the BNFE coordinator, a designated (formal education) teacher from public schools. Prototype materials are distributed and adapted to the field. Literacy sessions are organized depending on the interest and expressed needs of the client. These can be by class, by family, one-on-one tutoring, or self-learning arrangements. In some areas, the mobile teaching strategy is used, that is, the facilitator goes from one community to another to conduct literacy classes, especially in far-flung areas. Session schedules are flexible and adjusted to the clients' availability. Most of the time, this means night and weekend sessions for the literacy teacher.

All literacy teachers/facilitators undergo Training of Trainers (TOT) course to equip them with the skills to teach basic literacy and numeracy. In addition, through the Army Literacy Patrol System (ALPS), soldiers are also given this training so that they can go to usually inaccessible areas, e.g., mountainous regions or where the armed conflict makes the area dangerous for civilians, and conduct literacy sessions themselves.

In some areas, FELP implementation is done in cooperation with other government agencies (e.g., DILG, DAR, DA, DSWD), private institutions with extension services, NGOs, and LGUs.

Project monitoring and evaluation activities follo w a r e g u l a r s c h e d u l e :

In 1997, BNFE plans to decrease prototype production at the national level. Instead, the BNFE staff shall go to the field and directly assist in adapting the prototypes to the communities, and in developing additional community-based materials.

Also, a Literacy Service Contracting Scheme (LSCS) is being institutionalized. This is a subcontracting scheme for the conduct of literacy classes by other institutions and organizations in order to expand program reach. Agreements will be drawn between the BNFE and these organizations, with clear guidelines and a complete manual of operations to ensure quality. This scheme is currently in the initial stages; orientation seminars are being conducted for non-formal education coordinators and teachers.

Case: Claire Gamez

Dr. Claire B. Gamez, now chief of the Literacy Division of the BNFE, was a literacy teacher when the program was in its initial stages. Perhaps the biggest obstacle she encountered as a young teacher was the difficulty in identifying the illiterates in the community to which she was assigned. Due to the shame attached to illiteracy, family members and even friends did not want others to know about their illiterate relatives or friends. Even anonymous surveys did not work.

In the end, she had to combine several methods of data-gathering. Aside from questionnaires that she asked family members to fill up, she also conducted face-to-face interviews. To verify answers in the accomplished forms, she informally interviewed other family members and neighbors separately. She casually engaged children in conversation and asked who filled up the forms, why that person did and not the other members, etc.

All these methods required a lot of patience and meant going from house to house over and over, but slowly, an illiteracy profile of the community began to emerge. Even then, when a class of 40 was eventually mobilized, only five turned out to be really illiterate.

Other teachers used election lists to find out who the illiterates are in the community--those with thumbmarks instead of signatures on the registration and voting forms.

Alternative Learning System (ALS)

The ALS is a program for out-of-school youth designed to address Levels 4-5 literacy needs, which correspond to secondary education. It is classified as an Equivalency Program designed to be parallel and comparable to the formal school system. The ALS target groups include graduates of FELP, school dropouts, and other special priority groups, e.g., child workers. Special focus is given to clientele in priority target provinces.

The centerpiece of the system is the set of self-learning modules that focuses on the Essential Learning Competencies. This covers the whole range of skills in six learning areas: Communication Arts (English and Filipino), Mathematics, Science and Technology, Economic Productivity, Civics and Culture, and Spiritual and Moral Development. Modules for parents are also developed to instill self-reliance and self-help, including topics on cooperatives and consumer awareness. Aside from the major concepts and messages contained in the learning areas, the curriculum places emphasis on the acquisition of skills required by industry through demand-based courses, as well as on special concerns, e.g., responsibilities of children and parents.

Materials development is the current focus of the ALS and makes up the bulk of program activities. Like the FELP, new modules were made last year by community members themselves to ensure that the content is relevant to them.

The modules are distributed through the regional offices to the provincial and municipal offices and to the public schools. The participants can get copies of the modules through the NFE coordinator. Study teams are then created such that pairs of participants can help each other study. The study teams take many forms: parent-child, siblings, friends, neighbors, etc. Consultations by the participants with the coordinator/teacher, for clarification or assistance, are encouraged but not compulsory. Those who have completed the modules are encouraged to take the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT), a test of the formal educational system.

Like the FELP, an ALS Equivalency and Accreditation System, which expands on the PEPT, is being developed. This is aimed at helping participants complete the secondary level of education and removing the bias against "out-of-school"/non-formal education. The Accreditation and Equivalency Testing system will provide the tools and mechanisms for entry/re-entry from nonformal to formal learning systems and the entry into work. It will be completed and implemented for administration to those who underwent the ALS by 1997. Placement and referral services will also be offered.

Periodic evaluation of the effectiveness of the self-learning modules is done through survey questionnaires designed to find out how the modules are accepted in the communities, if they are useful in terms of content, and if they are cost-effective and sustainable. After evaluation, revisions are made to the modules according to evaluation results, to make them more relevant to the participants.

Alternative service delivery modes are also being studied and developed. These include: (a) print materials/modules; (b) School-on-the-Air Program which makes use of radio to deliver alternative learning, with an instructional manager conducting the lessons and facilitating the taking of PEPT by those who complete the courses; (c) video materials on the lessons; (d) utilization of community-based reading/information centers and/or community learning and resource centers to conduct courses and to serve as a center for linkage and communication; (e) educational services through the Child Labor Project of DOLE.

The ALS currently serves 50,000 to 75,000 children and parents per year, about 5,000 of which are working children. To extend services to more working children, NFE coordinators and teachers in Cebu and Mandaue have begun to select communities with high incidence of child labor, seek out the working children and encourage them to avail themselves of the services. The BNFE is also reviewing the modules to develop materials specifically on child labor and for child workers. Full-blown implementation of the ALS is expected by 1998.

Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (MPPE)

The implementing agency is the DECS, with support from UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


MPPE is a response to the decades old problem of low participation and cohort survival rates despite the policy of free basic education. Part of the reason is the absence of schools in about 25 per cent of the total barangays, and that 33 per cent of the elementary schools are incomplete.

Two-thirds of the classrooms in public schools are single-grade. This has been the typical classroom ever since the public school system was organized. Multigrade classes were organized as a necessity for remote barangays where the population of school-age children is so small it could not meet the required number to organize a single-grade class and assign the necessary teachers for each class. In many cases, aside from the distance of the barrio and the small number of students for each grade level, the shortage of teachers, funds and school buildings were among the factors that led to the organization of multigrade classes in different parts of the country.

In 1990, the DECS started to consider the organization and operation of multigrade classrooms within the framework of the efforts to provide education for all Filipino children. While DECS officials have always recognized the existence of multigrade classes, it is only recently that multigrade classes have been viewed as viable means to reach as many children as possible, especially in the elementary. Thus, efforts to address the special needs of multigrade classes and to improve the quality of instruction in multigrade classrooms have begun in the form of investments in training programs, curriculum development, and developmen t o f a p p r o p r i a t e l e a r n i n g m a t e r i a l s .

O b j e c t i v e s

Q u a l i t y :

E q u i t y :
The MPPE was pilot-tested under the Area-based Child Survival and Development Program in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Ifugao. In Ifugao, the approach was modified. Mountain teaching centers were organized for clusters of pupils and mobile multigrade teachers moved from one center to another. This was later adopted for the four highland provinces of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR). The modified approach reached 1,600 pupils, who otherwise would not have had access to education because of topographical barriers.

The success of the pilot-test influenced DECS to issue a national policy that all elementary schools must offer complete grades by adopting multigrade classes in schools that lack the teachers, classrooms, and pupils needed to constitute a single-grade class.

Of the five MPPE components, materials production and capability-building are considered most critical to the quality of multigrade teaching. The teachers' Multigrade Instructional Package (MIP) consists of Minimum Learning Competencies for Multigrade (MLC-MG); Budget of Work for each subject area; sample Lesson Plans; and a Handbook on Multigrade Teaching. Feedback from the teachers indicates that the MIP eases the burden of lesson planning for the teachers.

Multi-level Learning Materials (MLM) are compensatory learning devices for pupils. Every title is a self-learning module and comes in a set of three levels of difficulty. MLM's usefulness comes from the opportunity for pupils to work on learning materials appropriate to their ability level and, at the same time, to continue learning at their own pace while the teacher supervises the other groups in the class.

Capability building is critical because it is often the new, inexperienced teacher who is assigned to teach multigrade classes. Under the current MPPE, 13,300 teachers and supervisors need to be trained.

UNICEF assistance expanded the coverage of MPPE to 32 provinces and one city. The expansion will cover 25,000 multigrade teachers and supervisors. So far, 18,000 sets of MIP have been printed and 7,000 sets are still required. For the 13,300 multigrade classes covered by MPPE, 491 titles of MLM will be developed. The materials required per multigrade class and multigrade teacher have proven to be cost-effective despite their volume. A set of MIP costs P410, while a set of 171 titles of MLM funded by UNICEF costs P370.


The MPPE is an initiative by the DECS to improve the quality of instruction in multigrade classes through its five components, namely:

1. Development and production of an instructional package for multigrade teachers. The development of training aids (e.g., videos, transparencies) to complement existing materials (e.g., Budget of Work, Multigrade Handbook) is being undertaken.

2. Development and production of pupils' self-learning materials. At the regional and provincial levels, the training program for teachers and supervisors incorporates the preparation of teacher-made instructional materials and activity cards. After the training, teachers are provided with additional supplies and materials and they convene a workshop with parents to prepare learning materials for use in the schools.

3. Training of trainers, supervisors and teachers on multigrade instruction. Joint training programs are initiated among teams of multigrade teachers, district heads and principals, division multigrade coordinators and selected training organizations.

An Implementation Plan to improve the Multigrade Education Program with the establishment of 12 demonstration schools in six of the poorest provinces was initiated in 1996 by DECS-BEE with support from UNICEF. A central feature is a training design and strategy. The Implementation Plan involves three components:

a. First component:
-Improving the basic infrastructure of the schools.
-Improving the organization of the current curriculum, specifically reviewing and improving the Budget of Work for multigrade, the MLCs, and the sample lesson plans.
-Providing complete sets of textbooks and workbooks to cover the elementary school program for all subjects.
-Review of available materials and provision of more instructional materials and books/magazines.
-Providing effective, intensive form of in-service teacher training and joint teacher-supervisor workshops.

b. Second component:
-Monthly site-based mini-workshops and consultations for teachers, multigrade coordinators and district supervisors on child development issues, curriculum development, classroom management strategies, lesson planning, parent and community participation.

c. Third component:
- National Consultative Workshop
- Visit to Escuela Nueva/multigrade demonstration schools

4. Monitoring, supervision and research/evaluation of multigrade classes and program as a whole. A curriculum review and reorganization is currently being undertaken through a series of consultations and workshops to identify integrating mechanisms and ways of reorganizing the national curriculum to fit the situation in a multigrade classroom. The starting points are the existing Budget of Work and MLCs. Also being undertaken is a review of existing textbooks and available self-learning modules already developed for use in other programs. Quarterly monitoring and consultation visits by members of the BEE Regional Management Team and/or consultants to the multigrade schools shall be undertaken, to coincide with the third component of the Training Design. The National Consultative Workshop on the Third Component will also serve as a venue to review experiences and lessons learned.

5. Advocacy and mobilization for widespread support for the program. It is necessary to strengthen and expand linkages between DECS and other institutions at the national level for policy development, training, and materials development to improve the multigrade program. At the regional level, DECS can link with academic institutions which can be involved in some training activities and evaluation of the multigrade program. At the provincial level, the Inter-Agency Committee will be important in mobilizing government and community support and in coordinating programs and services, particularly those focused on the child and family. It is necessary to establish and nurture networks which will help sustain and support the multigrade program.

In the island province of Guimaras, where there are 17 multigrade and combination classes, overall achievement level of elementary grade students was 59.26 per cent, way below the expected mastery level of 75 per cent. Average teacher-pupil ratio for SY 1994-95 was 1:36-40, and pupil-textbook ratio was 1:3 or 1:4 in some areas. Cohort survival rate was 73.24 per cent, with absenteeism and dropping out due to illness, weather conditions, demands of family/household chores, participation in family farm work during planting and harvest seasons, or in fishing activities. Teachers also lament the lack of teaching guides/manuals, poor quality of textbooks, delayed distribution of books and lack of instructional materials.

In Tanglad Elementary School, there are two multigrade classes: Grades I-II and Grades III-IV. Teachers show dedication and commitment to work and rapport with the children. To make up for the lack of materials, they use teacher-made instructional materials, musical/rhythmic instruments made of indigenous and scrap materials, and tables to enhance the physical environment. The approach to managing the classes involved separate lessons for each of the two grade levels. Transitions between periods (subjects) involved singing. The children have time to play during recess, indicating some attention to balancing sedentary activities with less structured activities that the children obviously need and enjoy. Being residents of the barangay, the teachers can motivate community participation. Although the school building is dilapidated, parent and local government support is evident in the newly cemented portion of the outdoor play area that also serves as a convenient pathway to the classrooms especially during rainy season. Parents also constructed the rectangular tables and classroom chairs in the Grades I-II classroom.

DECS officials and supervisors at the Division Office have committed support in terms of supervision, training to explore alternative classroom management strategies and teaching methods, and adequate textbooks and supplies to improve the quality of instruction and enhance community partnerships. The Multigrade Coordinator has observed that the Multigrade Handbook and the Budget of Work are the most useful among the materials provided for use by multigrade teachers, but that sample lesson plans need to be revised.

Teachers and supervisors are very appreciative that more attention is being given to the multigrade program, especially since the children are very cooperative and seem to respond to the activities provided for them. The parents also express their desire to keep their children in the multigrade classes. It is envisioned that, with the much needed training, support in terms of materials and supervision, and enhancement of parent, community and local government involvement, the school will soon have a complete elementary program with two classes: Grades I-III and Grades IV-VI.

In Agusan del Sur, Marbon Elementary School in Talacogon district has a Grade I class and a Grades II-IV class. A Grades V-VI class, offered at the start of SY 1995-96, was dissolved because there were not enough enrollees. The students are all Manobo and come from Barangay Marbon. The composition of students in terms of age for each grade level reflects a large proportion of delayed schooling:

Grade I: 6-10 years old (only 13 of the 31 students are in the 6-7 age group)
Grade II: 7-11 years old
Grade III: 9-13 years old
Grade IV: 10-14 years old

Also in Agusan del Sur, the Isdaon Primary School has two multigrade classes: Grades I-II and Grades III-IV, held in two temporary classrooms built by residents. Students come from sitios Isdaon and Timberland (one kilometer from the school). In SY 1995-96, there were 18 Grade I students, 20 Grade II students, 13 Grade III students and 13 Grade IV students.

The classes are well-managed, the students at ease with their teacher and enthusiastic about their work. The community also participates actively in school life. Parents and community members have planted durian, gemelina trees, and flowering plants in the school grounds. They have donated pieces of furniture, such as chairs and a display board, for the school through the PTA. Parents send fruits and vegetables to the teachers to show their appreciation of the multigrade classes. The children sometimes bring small items to decorate their classroom. Construction of a two-classroom building is being prioritized for SY 1996-1997.

The renewed interest in improving the quality of multigrade classes offers hope for children in remote rural communities where multigrade schools will surely be the mainstay and the primary means for providing formal education. If the Multigrade Education Program is improved and the goal of enhanced partnerships with families and communities is achieved, it has encouraging potential to address the needs of working children in rural communities. It must be emphasized that the participation of families in the life of multigrade schools will be the most important indicator of success as far as the education of working children is concerned. It cannot be simply improvement of instruction in the classroom. There must be a genuine commitment to build community partnerships to ensure that the multigrade school is responsive to the needs of the community's children and families.

(A No Drop-out Learning System for Education for All)

The implementing agencies are the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)-Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (INNOTECH) on Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, and the DECS.

INNOTECH is the primary research arm of SEAMEO, a center for innovative research on systems for delivering education to various types of target groups. INNOTECH is actively involved in the Education for All (EFA) movement. It is supported by the Ministries of Education of member countries which assign their country staff and teams from educational institutions to the research projects.

Main Actors:

Project NODROPS-EFA is managed by a team of researchers headed by a Director, who is a member of the Research Steering Committee which provides overall direction and serves as the policy-making body for the research project. The committee also serves as INNOTECH's arm for dissemination and application of the results of the research.

A Technical Committee assists the Steering Committee and the Project Management Team. The committee serves as a consultative and advisory body.

Day-to-day planning, organizing, directing and controlling functions are performed by a Project Management Team composed of two project co-directors and two assistant project co-directors. Assisting the team are two research assistants/associates.

Each school site has a project leader and an assistant project leader. The team of project leaders is composed of the three superintendents of schools where the tryout schools are located. The Principals of the three tryout schools act as the assistant project leaders.


In the Philippines, there is an increase in the number of illiterates because of the phenomenon educational researchers refer to as "reversion to illiteracy" of many third grade school leavers and even those who have reached the sixth grade. The drop-out problem contributes significantly to the spread of illiteracy. At present, the number of illiterates is estimated at 5.8 million.

A look at the causes of dropout shows that many of the factors can be controlled in school. Some, however, are beyond the school's control, such as poverty, which is most frequently cited by students as the cause for leaving school. Other reasons include transfer of residence, early marriage, and taking care of younger brothers and sisters.

LS-EFA involves the use of different strategies and non-traditional approaches in both formal and nonformal education to help ensure that children achieve functional literacy and become both socially active and economically productive. LS-EFA was designed as a viable intervention program to address the drop-out phenomenon.


The project aims to contribute to the improvement of the internal efficiency of primary education by directly dealing with the problem of educational wastage stemming primarily from the drop-out problem. It also seeks to improve general access to quality basic education of school age children regardless of their socio-economic circumstances. Specifically, the research objectives are to:

a. Review drop-out prevention and reduction programs in the primary schools.
b. Develop student drop-out indicators for elementary education.
c. Design and develop an effective "no drop-out learning system" that
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To achieve the main objective, three major component activities--research, development, and dissemination--are being pursued.

The research component includes review of drop-out prevention and reduction programs, including a more comprehensive review of the literature on the nature, causes and consequences of drop-outs; the in-depth comparative qualitative case studies; and the ex post facto research on the causes of school drop-outs.

The development component covers the designing of the "no drop-out learning system" and the development of condensed primary school curriculum, supportive learning materials for pupils, and parent education materials. Formative and summative evaluations of the materials and the entire learning system are built-in activities in the tryout. Packaging of the validated "no drop-out learning system" is the last development activity before dissemination of research results.

The dissemination component includes preparation of reports, a dissemination conference for educational policy makers and higher education officials in the SEAMEO Region, and a training program for selected school administrators and instructional supervisors in the Philippines.

Complementary activities include:

1. Staff training for the project team before the start of research.

2. Production of support materials. The primary support materials include:

a. Learning modules for "temporary" school leavers (students who are absent during harvest or fishing season)

The project used the learning modules in Science, Mathematics and Social Studies developed by an earlier research and development project, IMPACT (Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers). These materials were revised and contextualized to meet the need for simplified and easy-to-use learning materials and to suit the learning situation of temporary school leavers. Four hundred and fifty of such learning modules underwent refurbishing.

b. Instructional materials, videos for teachers, school administrators, parents and community leaders

Learning modules were developed for the teacher-facilitators of the parent effectiveness training program, which aims not only to make parents more effective partners of the school in the education of children, but to develop knowledge and skills in effective parenting. A total of 12 modules has been produced for the training program.

3. Research publications. The following were produced for publication and dissemination: (a) a handbook on Project NODROPS-EFA, (b) an article or research abstract for publication in a research journal, (c) an executive summary for dissemination to policy makers and top level educational administrators, (d) a final report at the end of the tryout period.

4. Training/orientation and capability building for school administrators, teachers, parents, and community leaders. Topics include:
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5 . O p e r a t i o n a l field testing of the "no drop-out" learning system. Field testing or actual conduct of "no drop-out EFA" are conducted in six pilot schools: Loo in Benguet, Pinagsanjan in Laguna, San Antonio in Quezon City, Bagumbayan in Navotas, Pontevedra in Negros Occidental, and Tapian in North Maguindanao.

Target Groups

Six schools with about 6,400 primary pupils, their teachers, administrators, parents and community members, are direct beneficiaries of the learning system and the materials to be produced.

Principal Features of the No Drop-out Learning System

1. Integrating formal and non-formal learning systems. In-school and out-of-school learning approaches are used to provide modes of teaching and learning that are parallel to the formal education system. Integration of the Philippine Equivalency and Placement Test (PEPT) into the "no drop-out learning system" facilitates student entry and re-entry into the formal system.

Equipment, facilities and other resources available in the formal school are tapped for use in the nonformal education of parents and potential drop-outs.

2. Support in the form of non-formal education programs for parents. These programs provide livelihood training and other support and incentives to make parents more economically productive, improve their health and nutrition practices at home, raise their literacy levels and supervise and assist their children in their learning tasks.

The learning system integrates indigenous and modern learning methods, techniques and delivery approaches into its curriculum and instruction components to make it more suited to the community's culture, structures and processes. For example, indigenous materials and toys/games may be used to teach mathematical concepts, e.g., seeds, the "sungka" game. Current community beliefs and practices may be used in the study of history and culture. Community members are also tapped to participate actively in the affairs of the school.

3. Development of functional literacy and thinking skills. Acquisition of literacy skills through content relevant or meaningful to the students' lives are given focus. To illustrate, reading and counting skills may be honed by letting the students measure and label common objects found within the community. Making charts of height, weight and number of family members is also a very effective technique. The development of thinking skills is given primary attention. These skills involve being able to achieve order and to make logical connections between objects and events. Observing, conserving, sequencing, identifying cause and effect are examples of these skills. Critical thinking and the ability to manipulate and apply information for analysis, practical problem-solving and decision-making are honed.

4. Use of easily understood self-learning and peer-tutoring materials that enable students to proceed at their own pace and develop the basic skill of learning how to learn.

5. Adopting or adapting to the best features of other projects INNOTECH, DECS-BEE-BNFE-NETC and other organizations have already developed. Existing and effective learning modules, methods, materials and curricula are integrated into the learning system.

6. Home- and community-based early childhood development program. This provides the needed learning and socialization experiences that will make transition from home to school smoother and easier for pre-school children.

7. Flexible opening and closing of the schoolyear. The school term adjusts to the climate and the seasonal work of the community where children are badly needed by the parents. During these periods, the school is closed but out-of-school learning activities continue at home, in the neighborhood or in other learning centers. However, the required number of days per year the school has to serve the students remains the same.


The project is composed of two phases. Phase I covers the pilot and field test/experiment of the "no drop-out learning system" for a period of 42 months. Phase II is the expanded tryout of the system in other SEAMEO member countries, also for 42 months, with the first 12 months overlapping with the last 12 months of Phase I.

Materials and Media

Reproduced for each of the pilot schools are 1,650 learning lessons covering five subject areas (reading, language, mathematics, wika and pagbasa) and six grade levels. Twelve learning modules were developed for the teacher-facilitators of the parent education program.


The budget for Phase I is US$139,100, excluding production of support materials. This covers costs of personnel, fieldwork, materials, equipment and supplies, reproduction of reports, and initial complementary activities (training of research team, three consultative meetings, SEAMEO regional dissemination conference).

Networking and Collaboration

Phase I has the following as INNOTECH's collaborating agencies: Bureau of Elementary Education, Bureau of Nonformal Education, and National Education Testing Center (NETC), all under DECS; Nutrition Center of the Philippines of the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Normal College, and College of Education of the University of the Philippines

Phase II will have the Ministries of Education and other agencies that will be tapped by the same ministries in the other five SEAMEO member countries as INNOTECH's collaborating institutions.

Lessons Learned / Impact

A summative evaluation of the project was conducted at the end of SY 1994-95, with the following highlights:

1. Improved internal efficiency. The most significant accomplishment of the No Dropout Learning System-EFA as an intervention was the reduction, and almost elimination, of dropout incidence. In four out of six pilot schools, dropout rate dropped to zero. The other two pilot schools had dropout rates near zero (INNOTECH 1995).

Dropout incidents in Loo Elementary School, located in an upland farming community, often occurred during planting and harvest seasons. The students had to set aside their schooling in favor of additional income as farm hands of their parents or neighbors, or to take care of their younger siblings at home. Schooling conflicted with meeting the family's survival needs.

When LS-EFA was introduced, dropout rate gradually decreased from 4 per cent in 1990 to 0 per cent for SYs 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Before the LS-EFA, the dropout rate of Tapian Elementary School was 6.07 per cent. Although Tapian is a fishing village, the students come from the Tirurays, a nomadic tribe living in nearby mountainside. Like the children of Loo, the students dropped out during certain periods of the year to help their parents make a living.

With the implementation of LS-EFA, dropout rate decreased to 2.272% in SY 1991-92, increased a little to 3.64% in SY 1992093, and dropped to 0% in the succeeding two years.

Dropout rates of two other pilot schools, Pontevedra South Elementary School (in a lowland farming community) and Pinagsanjan Elementary School (in a depressed suburban village) dropped to 0 per cent with the operationalization of LS-EFA.

It was in the schools located in depressed urban/slum areas where dropout rates did not completely drop to 0 per cent. Dropout incidence in San Antonio Elementary School decreased from 14 students or 0.58 per cent at the start of the project, to two students at the end of the tryout period. Bagumbayan Elementary School had 48 student dropouts in SY 1990-91. This was reduced to one in SY 1993-94. In both schools, there was no way of retrieving the students who dropped out since their whereabouts or those of their families remained unknown.

2. Learning gains. Pupil achievement gains varied from one pilot school to another, although comparisons between the achievement mean scores of Grades IV, V and VI pupils in the pilot schools and those of the control schools showed positive results. On the whole, NDLS-EFA's impact in terms of learning gains was most significant in areas where the parents and the community participated more fully in the planning, setting up and operationalizing the various components of the expanded learning system. The collaborative partnership among these sectors and the resulting cooperation and teamwork were the most critical factors.

3. Functional literacy level. Generally, more pupils in the experimental schools had functional literacy levels within and above the levels they were expected to possess than those in the control schools.

In Loo Elementary School, only about 5 per cent was below the Grade IV literacy level compared to 9 per cent in Paoad Elementary School, the control school. Almost 74 per cent of the students had literacy levels above Grade VI compared to only 71 per cent in the control school.

In Pinagsanjan Elementary School, there were no Grade IV and Grade VI students below the Grade IV functional literacy level; a large proportion of them was above the Grade VI level compared to 71 per cent and 78 per cent in Grades IV and V respectively in Mojon Elementary School, the control school. In both schools, however, 100 per cent of the students in Grade VI were above the Grade VI functional literacy level. They are the only two schools with 100 per cent functionally literate Grade VI students.

The percentage of students for the three literacy levels in San Antonio Elementary School, the pilot school, was not significantly different from that of San Francisco Elementary School, the control school.

In Bagumbayan Elementary School, Pontevedra South Elementary School and Tapian Elementary School, a higher percentage of students was above the expected literacy levels compared to the control schools.

In effect, the LS-EFA helped develop the functional literacy skills of the pupils. Although the control schools were also able to develop the same skills in their pupils, significantly more pupils in the experimental schools attained higher level of functional literacy skills.

4. Thinking skills and ability to learn how to learn. In thinking skills, Grade V and VI pupils in the experimental schools were more capable of generating multiple solutions to problems and of coming up with as many ideas as they could compared to the pupils in the control schools. However, the Grade IV pupils in both experimental and control schools were about the same in thinking skills.

The ability of pupils to learn how to learn was also found to be significantly better in the experimental schools, as manifested by their better ability to comprehend reading materials and greater ability to cope with learning materials independently.

The LS-EFA's teacher training program on developing thinking skills and the varied exercises introduced to develop the pupils' ability to learn how to learn appear to have enhanced pupils' thinking and ability for more independent learning.

5. Attitude of pupils toward teachers' teaching practices. Pupils in the experimental schools showed more positive attitude toward teacher's teaching practices. This could partly be attributed to the implementation by the teachers of the "no hostility in the classroom" policy. It could also be the product of the innovative pedagogical techniques and approaches, including the alternative learning system for temporary and permanent school leavers, which the teachers used after finishing their teacher training or upgrading program.

6. Attitude of pupils toward school and learning. Results showed that pupils in the experimental schools manifested more positive attitude toward school and learning. This could be due to the vast improvements in the pilot schools' physical, socio-psychological, and administrative and leadership environment since the LS-EFA project was implemented. It appears that the different strategies used to make the pilot schools more pleasant for play and learning could have facilitated the process of learning (e.g., use of positive slogans and posters about learning and education, holding of diverse and varied school academic and non-academic contests and activities, the "no teacher hostility in the classroom" campaign, use of media like television, feeding program, etc.). In addition, strategies such as peer tutoring, buddy system, programmed teaching, and cooperative learning could have made children's learning easier and more fun, making the school a more conducive place for schooling and learning.

7. Acceptability of the learning system. The attitude of teachers toward LS-EFA was generally favorable. Interview results showed that the teachers felt at ease with the expanded learning system and they expressed its positive contributions to making teaching and learning effective.

The attitude of parents and community members toward the expanded learning system was also favorable. This attitude was expressed in terms of the extent of their collaboration with the school in addressing the dropout problem and of their support to the school's learning programs.

The pupils' attitude toward classroom-based learning support system was also very positive. They perceived the strategies, especially the programmed teaching and peer group learning, as interesting and enjoyable. They found the learning support materials easy to use and understand.


To sustain the project, the commitment of teachers and administrators is needed, additional learning materials for potential school leavers must be produced, and a stronger commitment from DECS must be made for adoption of the project in other schools on a policy level. The absorptive capacity of DECS becomes an issue when the time of transfer of responsibility from INNOTECH comes, due to limitations in resources. Care must be observed to ensure that the system will not be diluted in such a way that the results are no longer replicable.

Another issue to take into consideration is ensuring the continued participation of other government agencies and non-government organizations in the schools' efforts to eliminate the dropout problem. The pilot phase has shown that the holding power of schools is greatly enhanced with the collaboration of other agencies and community-based organizations.

Innovative Educational Strategies
for Working Children in Lapu-Lapu City

The implementing agency is the DECS in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.


DECS Lapu-Lapu City registered a total of 569 working children from Grades I to VI level in schools located in the depressed barangays of Suba-basbas, Babag and Sudtunggan. A majority of the children is in Grades IV, V and VI. They are engaged in various jobs to earn a living, such as selling in the early morning and late afternoon, and working as helpers in tourist pumpboats, jeepney conductors, hotel errand girls and boys, garden helpers, and dishwashers in restaurants. Some 354, or 62.21 per cent, are involved in pyrotechnic production while 157, or 27.59 per cent, worked rain or shine cutting Mactan stone. These jobs enable the children to contribute to family income at subsistence level.

The schools where these children are enrolled have the highest dropout rate of 5-8 per cent per year.

Actual survey of their homes and family situation showed that their parents do not have regular income. Houses are built of discarded cartons and scrap lumber. Old streamers from various celebrations in the city make up the typical house walls.


Direct beneficiaries of the project are the children enrolled in the city's public schools who have to work to supplement family income. Specifically, the beneficiaries are the street children, the Mactan stone cutters of Suba-basbas Elementary School, the 357 pyrotechnics makers of Babag Elementary School, and the 17 rugby sniffers from various elementary schools

The children face health and safety risks directly related to their work. The pyrotechnic makers face the danger of fire and illness posed by the gunpowder stored in their homes. The Mactan stone cutters are vulnerable to illness associated with heavy work under extreme exposure to sun and rain. Street children are vulnerable to accidents while working on the streets, and to the dangers of substance abuse.


1. Problem/needs assessment and verification. A survey by DECS, with the support of UNICEF, on working children and non-working parents was done by four teachers selected from each school of 29 barangays. Felt needs and problems were assessed and validated during the survey and interviews.

2. Advocacy meetings. Two advocacy meetings were conducted by DECS, participated in by the LGU chief, the mayor and the city planning officer-in-charge, the DSWD officer, the city health officer, barangay officials, a PTCA official, the education committee chairman of the Sangguniang Panglungsod, non-working parents, parents of working children, teacher advisers and school principals, and education supervisors/consultants of schools. The assistant chief of DECSRO-7 NFE represented the regional director.

The meetings agreed upon specific programs/projects to address identified problems and needs, and the strategies to be employed. Financial requirements per project were specified and the possible sources of funds identified. A sum of P1.4 million was appropriated from the general funds and over P1 million would be accessed from the local school board fund for 29 barangays.

3. Specific alternative livelihood/intervention programs for working children.

a. For the Mactan stone cutters of Suba-basbas Elementary School, the production of fashion accessories from indigenous resources, such as mahogany shells, fish scales, stones, sawdust, shells, cloth, rope/twine, paper, and scrap wood, was introduced. The project was established with an education partner, Mrs. Ursula Aznar. The partnership was initiated by the Schools Division Superintendent.

Production is usually based on demand, that is, per order. Marketing is done by the superintendent and promotional staff during conferences, meetings and celebrations.

Each working child earns a net minimum income of P30 for every half-day of work during regular days and P50-70 per day during holidays and Sundays.

Children voluntarily report for work after lunch, during their free time. Creativity is enhanced as they create their own design and color combinations. Love of work and dignity of labor are automatically developed.

Production has been moved to the classrooms so that the children can be monitored. School dropout and tardiness are now almost nil.

In addition, parents, school and community officials and education partners have become proud of their children's efforts.

b. For the 357 pyrotechnic makers of Bagbag I and Bagbag II Elementary School, the intervention program was conceived primarily to remove the children from the danger of fire and on their health. With the legalization of pyrotechnic production in the area and the founding of a cooperative for this purpose, more children were recruited, with the number highest from September to December. This is reflected in the drastic increase in dropout rate in this barangay during these months.

Although the main concern of DECS was how to make the children stay in school, the realization that these children urgently needed to earn to survive led them to try a different approach.

Production was moved to the school for closer monitoring. The children were taught to work in an assembly line for increased efficiency, i.e., pasting and rolling, tying, preparing the holes. The administration made sure that the children were not engaged in filling the containers with gunpowder. A teacher supervisor ensured quality output. The result was increased output per hour and more income, while the children were still being able to attend classes.

c. Because of extreme hunger and poverty, some children have resorted to sniffing rugby. Seventeen children from various elementary schools in the city are now at the youth rehabilitation center in Argao. A special intervention program is being prepared by DECS Lapu-Lapu City to be implemented when they come out of the center after six months.

4. Community-based livelihood projects and literacy classes for parents of children enrolled in the different schools were set up.

Main Actors

DECS - Lapu-Lapu City coordinates the project activities. Collaboration includes:

1. Education partners. With authorization for emergency classes from the DECS regional director, the division superintendent of schools sought education partners to:
a. provide materials for production;
b. train teachers to supervise the work of children through quality control, design, dye techniques, materials preparation, actual production, and finishing strategies;
c. lend equipment for polishing, designing, and hole-making;
d. provide other materials, e.g., scrap lumber to make storage cabinets, working tables, working stools, materials holders, display board.

2. The city government provided casual workers to do the carpentry jobs.

3. School administrators, DECS officials, and city officials help market the children's products. Their offices also order tokens for seminar workshops, congresses, conventions, and parties.

4. Parents support the program through their acceptance of emergency classes and active participation in meetings and conferences. They also follow up their children's homework, lessons and attendance in the regular classes. Most importantly, the parents consented to open a savings account for the children, in which 20 per cent of the children's daily earnings are deposited.

5. The School Board provided an honorarium of P400 per month to teachers supervising the children.

School Community-based Alternative Approaches to Education -- Livelihood Projects
Chandelier making, Space utilization,
Literacy class
Mabes Cosmetology
Buaya Radio mechanics, Mangrove
Pta. Engano Leather bag making
Ibo Culinary arts
Baring Mat weaving, Shellcraft
Caubian Dress making
Caw-oy Literacy Class
Poo Dress making, Literacy Class
Tingo Dress making, Cosmetology
Suba Prim Swine and chicken dispersal, Silk screen printing
Sabang Dress making
Central Literacy class
Babag I Rattan craft, Cosmetology
Babag II Soap making
Canjulao Literacy class
Kalawisan Literacy class
Lo-ok Salabat making, Soap making, Literacy class
Tiange Bag making
Urban agriculture, Culinary arts, Welding, Hi-speed sewing
Basak Literacy class
Buyong Literacy class
Gun-ob Literacy class
Maribago Pottery making
Sudtonggan Poultry raising
Bankal Literacy class
Pusok Literacy class
Sta. Rosa Tailoring


In general, the project was able to address the risks faced by the working children and ensure their attendance by incorporating the income-generating activities in the school. In addition, the children were able to earn more and additional livelihood projects were provided to their families.

Parents and children have expressed positive attitude and an increased pride in their work.

Sanayan ng mga Batang Mananambakan (SABANA)

Initiated by the International Labour Organisation and the Bureau of Women and Young Workers of DOLE, the SABANA project, located in Smokey Mountain in Balut, Tondo, Manila, is implemented by the Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, Inc. (ERDA)

Formerly implemented by ILO and the BWYW to eliminate child scavenging in the Smokey Mountain dumpsite and bring the children back to school, the project is a drop-in center providing alternative education and protective services.

Preliminary research showed there were 1,300 child scavengers operating in Smokey Mountain. These children were exposed to several risks to life and limb everyday. They worked for long periods under the sun and had no access to clean drinking water. Fumes emitted by decomposing garbage were inhaled by the children; their hands touched decayed food, chemical wastes, broken glass, burning rubber and plastics, jagged and rusty metal, even cadavers and aborted fetuses. Explosions caused by combustion of garbage materials were common. Children were also often hit by dumptrucks and bulldozers.

Protective services--food, temporary shelter, clean water and occasional vaccinations--were provided at the center to encourage the children to visit regularly and to enroll in the SABANA tutorial services. Once enrolled, a contract was drawn up with the children's parents stipulating that they would no longer send their children to the dumpsite to scavenge, but instead encourage them to attend the tutorial sessions conscientiously until they were ready to attend formal school. Therefore, enrolment in the project meant a commitment by the children and their parents to provide the environment, support and opportunity for the children to want to go to school.

The project was turned over to ERDA in September 1992. ERDA has been implementing an educational assistance and scholarship program in Smokey Mountain since 1977. It was a participant in consultation meetings convened by ILO at the beginning of the SABANA project. From these meetings, the Education Cluster was formed, composed of NGOs with educational programs in Smokey Mountain. ERDA provided valuable information and training on management skills for member organizations.

Since the project turnover, ERDA has introduced several innovations while maintaining the basic project design and non-traditional curriculum developed by the ILO and the DOLE. Among these are: educational assistance in the form of tutorial services for children who are already in school, development of a preschool curriculum, skills and livelihood training (painting, t-shirt printing, dancing, crafts), value formation and leadership training. Children who can serve as junior educators were identified and involved in peer-helping.

ERDA also introduced a savings program. A child can "deposit" any amount of money (usually P1 to P3) everyday, the sum of which they can "withdraw" at Christmas time to be used in whatever way they wanted.

ERDA currently serves 275 children in Smokey Mountain, 90 of whom are enrolled in the SABANA program. There are 23 junior educators who have organized themselves into a children's organization. While ERDA staff members comprise the overall project management team, community members--most of whom are scavengers themselves--handle the day-to-day management of the activities at the center. ERDA envisions that the community itself will be able to manage the entire project someday.

According to ERDA, one indication of the success of the project is that most of the children have returned to the public school system and are able to compete with other children in terms of academic performance. Some have even received honors. A few teachers from nearby public schools have approached the ERDA staff, asking them if they could take in more children into the center. While the physical set-up prevents ERDA from expanding the program to accommodate more than 90 children at a time, coordination with the public schools have been strengthened.

There have also been several offers to sponsor the project in part or in full from other organizations and individuals.

With the center's operations in place, the project is entering a new phase. The focus now is on developing the skills and talents of the children. What started out as an art activity is now a livelihood project, with the children handpainting t-shirts which ERDA sells to partners and individuals. Children who have talents for dancing, singing and hosting are given opportunities to share these talents during programs and even show tours. Parent organizing has been initiated. Training sessions for parents have been conducted on skills training, value formation, parenting, and livelihood.

ERDA has received several requests to replicate the project in other areas. However, ERDA feels it is not ready to do so at present, especially since different situations call for different approaches, and that mere replication will not be effective. However, it is willing to share experience with other NGOs and provide training if necessary.

Case: Andoy

Andoy's family came to Manila when he was one year old. They have been living on Smokey Mountain since he was three. His mother is a scavenger. His father has a drinking problem and occasionally earns money by driving a pedicab. Andoy worked as a scavenger.

A community worker introduced him to the drop-in center when he was 9, encouraging him to stay there to rest, read and avail himself of the free lunches. Later, he was interviewed and enrolled in the SABANA program. He stopped scavenging. The ERDA staff made sure he stayed off the dumpsite by regularly visiting his mother and asking her not to send him to the dumpsite to work.

In addition to the alternative classes, Andoy also engaged in alternative work provided by the project--the production of silkscreened and handpainted t-shirts, from which he earns his school allowance.

With his talent for dancing, he has gone with a group of other children on an international tour sponsored by the local parish His leadership skill has also been developed and he now often hosts children's programs and activities in the community.

Andoy, now on his third year in high school, belongs to the top section of his school. He dreams of becoming a painter and a soldier. He says he is very grateful to the SABANA project because it is helping him fulfill his dreams.

Issues and Recommendations

The Cycle of Life for Working Children

Child labor has been part of the history of many generations of Filipino children. Domestic work, street vending, running errands, and doing odd-jobs are among their difficult life experiences. In urban centers, the problem of child labor has not only become more visible, the works and life conditions of the children have worsened considerably in the last two decades. It has been established that parents who were once child workers themselves are more likely to send their children to work. The cycle is perpetuated especially among peasant and fishing families. The continuing backwardness and underdevelopment in the countryside send more families to the urban centers where their life becomes more difficult. The interrelationship between rural and urban life must be considered more seriously in choosing priorities for programs and services and in selecting appropriate approaches to working with children and families caught in the cycle of exploitative work.

Much progress has been made in promoting and protecting the rights of Filipino children and in the area of national legislation and policy. With close to two decades of child protection work at the grassroots by both the government and non-government organizations, many lessons can be learned. But many more remain unreached, especially children among the poorest families who contribute significantly to family income, and children who live on their own as migrants in the urban centers and resort towns that rely on tourism for livelihood.

The complexity of child labor problem in the Philippines is due largely to social and economic factors. The macro factors are often accurately identified, analyzed and resolved at the national levels, but the view from top, despite the researches and information gathered, is still ultimately limited because the factors for successful implementation of plans and programs to solve the child labor problem depend on the diverse local conditions. There is a wide gap between the plans and the actual delivery of services. Local solutions are sometimes set aside for other priorities. Necessary resources and technical assistance needed to pursue local solutions are not provided. Often the lack of coordination among government agencies hampers the implementation of solutions.

These gaps in the translation of policy and programs into services that actually reach or are used by the children and families result in a continuing lack of access by working children to basic social services. It is time to acknowledge that this is an injustice against the working children who contribute significantly to the national economy through their labor. They have a right to these benefits not only as children who, as the most vulnerable sector of the population, most deserve the full provision of services and protection from the State but also as workers who, like their adult counterparts, are responsible for the production that fuels the country's economy.

The child labor problem requires an analysis of multiple interrelated solution processes that have been done over time (Szanton-Blanc 1994; ILO 1994). The causes and symptoms of the problem must be fully understood. The issues related to the education of working children and the appropriate interventions to address these issues can best be examined within this multi-level framework.

Table 9: Levels of Causality Pointing to Important Levels of Action*
International and
national level State and city level Community and family level Macro processes
Structural adjustment
Uneven balance of power Insufficient democratization and
Inadequate planning and policy formulation
Transnational migration
Globalization of ills(drugs, AIDS)
Colonial History Meso processes
Large-scale planning not
connected with people's
Inadequate policy formulation
and implementation
Lack of coordinated services
and support
Urban migration
Rural underdevelopment Micro processes
Conflict with parents
Lack of cooperation within
Lack of shelter
Parental illness, death,
Degraded community
environmental conditions
Source: Szanton-Blanc, 1994

For purposes of developing recommendations, this paper will focus on two levels of causality and corresponding actions: the state and city level and the community and family level. However, since the management of the educational system is still centralized, it is also necessary to address national level policy. Specific national policies relevant to child labor problem, specially the educational needs of working children, will be addressed.

Working Child and the Family

The level closest to the child and the most typical context of child labor is the family level. It is here where social and cultural factors, structural adjustments, and economic policies and programs have direct impact on the decision of the child to work. The Filipino child, especially the one under difficult circumstances, must be understood within the context of the family and the community. Studies have pointed out that the continuing and worsening situation of working children is a result of crisis in the family.

Most successful social programs have as common denominator the focus on family. Involvement and active participation of family members are essential ingredients for the success of the programs, whether in the urban or rural areas. Successful educational interventions to reduce or eliminate the dropout rates and help the child cope with the demands of formal school system show the need to involve the families, especially parents.

In addressing the needs of working children, it may be worthwhile to consider researches on children who manage to succeed despite extremely difficult life conditions. Considering the resiliency factors in the lives of these children could highlight effective approaches and interventions in eliminating exploitative forms of child labor.

Nutrition is another area which may be considered. A review of 16 studies which compared children who succeed, or the so-called "positive deviant" children, with those who do not point to three explanations (Zeitlin, Ghassemi and Mansour 1990):

1. Psychological and social well-being. The characteristics that predict a good nutritional outcome are the same as those that predict good cognition, health and long-term development of the individual into a stable and productive member of society.

2. Attitudes and aspirations of parents. Parents of children who thrive despite great odds are more likely to be upwardly mobile, not fatalistic, and take initiative compared to other parents. They are generally more enterprising and adopt modern practices in managing their children and family. They are also able to seek and use available social services, e.g., health, family planning, educational programs. They tend to bear fewer children and have higher aspirations for them. They also invest more for their children.

3. Behaviors, technologies and social structures. Some characteristics of caregiver-child interaction associated with adequate child growth and development include: frequent physical interaction like holding and hugging, quick and consistent response to a child's perceived or expressed needs, communication with the child that involves frequent and direct eye contact, responding to a child's vocalizations, allowing the child to take initiative, balancing praise for the child's achievements with reprimand for inappropriate behavior, and creating a stimulating physical environment.

What these demonstrate is that efforts to address the psychosocial well-being of the child affect their growth and development.

An important factor is the quality of social support systems available to the child's caregiver. Aside from the 16 studies reviewed by Zeitlin et al, a longitudinal study among multiracial children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in a Hawaiian community pointed to the importance of social support structures and systems in the lives of resilient children. The study was significant because it followed the subject children from their prenatal period to the end of adolescence. Werner and Smith (1982) identified protective factors within the child and the caregiving environment that differentiate them from children who develop serious learning and behavioral problems. The caregiving environment drew from the following major sources of support:

SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h four or fewer children who were at least two years apart in age
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h adequate attention to the infant in the first year of life
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h positive parent-child relationship in early childhood
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h additional caregivers aside from the mother: siblings, grandparents, relatives, and neighbors
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h steady employment for the mother outside the household
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h structure and rules in the household and shared values
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h a sense of coherence
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h close peer friends and availability of counsel
SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h access to special services

In brief, the resilience of children depends largely on the relationship of the child with his or her caregiver/s and the availability of support for the caregiver.

In applying the implications of these findings to support children who at high risk of exploitative forms of labor, or who are already trapped in them, it is important to focus on the child in the family through programs and services that will enable and empower the family to fulfill its caregiving responsibilities to the children.

1. Working with children during the earliest years of childhood is an investment in infants and young children. At the same time, it offers a window of opportunity for reaching out to families, especially in families where caregivers do not have the social support systems and older siblings are already involved in child labor.

It has been established that when children's work at home involved caring for younger children--i.e., serving as surrogate parents to enable parents to work outside the home--they are at high-risk of dropping out of school. There is a direct connection between early childhood development programs and the needs of school-age children who would otherwise be forced to stay home to care for younger siblings.

Research among urban working children showed that parents tend to pin their hopes and chances for mobility on their children who show potential for coping with the demands of formal school. These children are considered "having a good head" and are most likely to succeed (Szanton-Blanc 1994). Parents are therefore likely to take a pragmatic approach to decision-making about schooling and will invest their limited resources in the schooling of the children who show greater promise of school achievement. This has implications for children who are unlikely to succeed and who are in turn most likely to be excluded from the opportunities for more learning experiences. They are also at greater risk of abuse and exploitation within and outside the family. They will be expected to contribute more to the economic life of the family in direct or indirect forms. It makes sense therefore to reduce the opportunities for children to be perceived as weak and unable to cope with formal school and less likely to succeed than their siblings. This is another value of early childhood development programs that provide children with early opportunities for socialization and interaction within a stimulating and supportive environment. They nurture children's inherent potential for learning.

2. Investing in women's development and education programs that enable them to learn skills that could bring stable family income and fulfill their role as primary caregivers will go a long way in improving the life situation of children. These programs should be closely linked to community-based child care support systems and services from infancy through early childhood. There are enough examples of low-cost and viable alternatives in women's programs that allow them to participate actively as productive members of the community and at the same time enable them to fulfill their role as caregivers. Women's' credit programs by themselves will not guarantee an improvement in the lives of children. There must be a more integrated approach that closely reflects the intersecting needs of women and children in the family.

Female functional literacy programs that address child development and family life, including children's and women's rights, livelihood or work-related skills (e.g., labor-saving devices, improved agricultural practices, entrepreneurship, specific crafts that can be produced with indigenous materials) have great potentials that must not be overlooked. There is a tendency, however, to look at women's programs separately from children's needs. But the situation of Filipino women merits an integrated approach to development programs for both women and children. Filipino women are generally comfortable with their role as caregiver.

3. Parent education and involvement programs are worthwhile investments in improving the educational opportunities for working children and their overall well-being. Parents are often simply unaware of the harmful effects of child labor as they themselves were once working children or they feel they have no other choice.

Social and cultural factors that explain the child labor problem in the country are deeply embedded in the life of the Filipino family. These factors appear to be heightened in the situation of families in poverty. The attitude toward children as primarily beneficial to the family rather than as beneficiaries of the family is more explicit among families who live in poverty because the usefulness of children begins at a very early age as producers and direct contributors to family income. For middle and upper class families, it is only in later years, when children are in school (school achievement being a source of pride and fulfillment for parents), or when the children are young working adults, or in their parents' old age that this view of children becomes evident. The utilitarian view of childhood is not yet acknowledged in a society that prides itself as being nurturing of its children and youth. It is necessary to confront this latent attitude in order to address the deeply embedded social and cultural factors that explain the contradictions between the role of parents as caregivers and the role of children as workers.

Parent education programs are necessary, especially those that aim to empower families to fulfill their responsibilities in a way that does not exploit any individual member and that engenders mutual respect for each member's rights as human beings. The parent education programs may take as many forms and explore as many contexts as possible. They must be available for parents in their own homes, in informal neighborhood contexts, through schools and workplaces, and through different forms of mass media. These programs should avoid telling parents what to do, but should offer them the social support system they need.

Integrated parent/adult education programs can create a culture for shared learning and interest in learning, which can in turn motivate a family to seek non-formal and formal educational programs for children. The value of community-based parent and adult education programs are not just limited to their potential for the self-improvement of parents, or for simply resolving child exploitation problem within the family. They are valuable in helping families and communities restore their faith in the value of education for long-term rewards as against the more pressing and urgent needs of day to day survival. The fulfillment experienced from participation in adult education programs will help sustain parents' interest in assisting the children and in supporting their continued participation in educational programs.

3. The State must redefine its relationship with the Filipino family. The Philippines has a long history of social welfare programs linked to the Church and other charitable organizations. These programs have been directed for the poorest families, often to provide selected needs such as food, clothing and the education of children.

There are also public-funded welfare programs for families patterned to some extent after the state welfare policies of developed nations, although with much less resources to offer. In the Philippines, the family is still expected to be primarily responsible for the needs of its members. The family continues to be the primary means of putting order in the social and political life of the country. But many families in the rural communities are landless peasants or small fisherfolk who do not really control their lives. They are employed by landowners, or are born and die indebted to their employers. Many Filipino families do not have enough of a social safety net to fall back on.

Over the last 10 years, population distribution has reflected a fast-paced shift to urban areas in search of more opportunities for economic improvements. But the government, in a move toward urban renewal, has focused on eliminating the embarrassing presence of the urban poor through demolitions and resettlements. Of particular concern is that the demolitions are no longer seen as part of the actions of a repressive regime but are justifiable actions in the name of economic progress. But what are their implications for the working children who are on their own or who belong to urban poor families affected by urban development schemes? What options do resettlement areas offer them?

The phenomenon of overseas contract work, with its significant implications for the Filipino family, is also a fairly recently highly visible development that is also a result of State policies for economic development for the past 10 to 15 years. The effects of this approach to solving the employment crisis raise serious concerns that the government must address.

To avoid perpetuating a mendicant, dependent culture of poverty, social development policies must be firmly anchored on empowering the families to enable them to fulfill responsibilities to individual members. The Filipino family must be helped to participate fully in the life of the community and of society by freeing them from the powerlessness of poverty and from the intergenerational cycles of disenfranchisement from active social participation.

The Working Child, the School and the Community

The school system plays a most important role in addressing the educational needs of working children. Some of the educational programs, both formal and non-formal, developed within the public school system to address the needs of working children have been described earlier. Some programs have been successful but there is a need to analyze why, despite the success of these programs, they have not been able to grow on a scale necessary to reach greater number of children not reached by the school system. It is important to look into the obstacles to expand and sustain these programs.

These educational programs offer very valuable lessons:

1. The Multigrade program shows that multiple strategies and approaches applied flexibly are necessary to respond effectively to the diverse and challenging needs of children growing up in poverty, especially in the rural communities where most child workers are found.

2. Partnerships with families and communities are essential in successful educational interventions. These partnerships involve sharing responsibilities to support the children, as the SABANA project has shown.

3. The ALS and FELP programs of DECS-BNFE show that it makes a big difference when teachers and school leaders (principals, supervisors and superintendents) care enough to take extra steps to address the needs and problems of children who are at high risk of dropping out.

4. The experience of Lapu-Lapu City shows that teachers and school leaders can be catalysts of community action against child labor if community members are made more aware of and sensitive to the needs of children and their families, and if education is seen as a joint responsibility of the families and the community

Educators can be the most effective advocates of policy alternatives in the education of working children. However, there are questions about the implications of eliminating child labor in favor of non-hazardous, supervised or protected work. This is a continuing issue to reflect on.

5. Improvements in classroom practice, programs related to child work, and learning environment transform the school experience of the child into a more positive experience, as in the case of the NODROPS-EFA project. Thus, those who are at high-risk of dropping out seasonally or for a longer period are motivated to stay on.

In addition, it should be worth looking into the following issues:

1. The need to improve linkages between non-formal education programs for both children and parents to provide more flexible options for the working children.

2. A more integrated approach to different aspects of basic education that in turn addresses the needs of the child will go a long way. For example:

SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h Sustained school-based feeding programs.

SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h Credit schemes or educational cooperatives for families or the children so that the right to work and the right to education need not be conflicting rights. "Earn while you learn" may well be a guiding principle especially for children aged 12 to 15 who really do not see the viability of going back to school full-time.

SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 12 \h Health and nutrition programs for the family through the school or through the child, e.g., expansion of the Teacher-Child-Parent program or modified versions.

3. Independent or self-learning schemes should offer more options for getting started or for accreditation. In relation to this, early and close monitoring of the difficulties encountered in getting into the non-formal education or into the ALS system and then taking the PEPT should be a priority.

4. It is important to address the issue of language for the education of children in rural communities, especially indigenous communities. The relevance of education also depends on a consideration of the learner's language. Since the national policy of bilingual instruction is uniformly applied, and there is a widely held view that being able to speak English is an asset in getting employment, there has been less progress toward a critical view on the issue of language. The teaching of Filipino children particularly for the important functional literacy areas (e.g., Language and Mathematics) starting with the earliest primary grades must be reconsidered since the languages used are English and Filipino. Learning a second or third language that is not the language of the home and the community while a child--or an adult--is still making the all-important transition to the world of the written word and symbols.

Research has shown that if the functional literacy program is taught in the local language, there are greater chances for the learner to learn and to sustain his or her interest (Doronila and Acuna 1994). Successful community-based educational programs in other developing countries use the community's own language. It is difficult to address the question of social relevance of education without rethinking the current language policy of the public educational system.

5. Integrating action research or operational research within educational programs and providing teachers and school administrators with resources and necessary training will be a good strategy to ensure children's active participation in making decision for improving the quality of educational experiences.

Action research in many countries is actually tied closely to schools, as it is seen as an approach to support the professional development of teachers by helping them document and reflect on theory and practice. In many countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, the work of NGOs with children and communities in especially difficult circumstances has maximized the methods and strategies of participatory research. There are action research programs developed within the context of children's programs with special focus on children's participation. (InDRA 1994). It is time to re-introduce these dynamic forms of learning about children and their needs to the Philippine educational system.

Participatory action research can lead to a more meaningful curriculum and effective instructional practices in schools with high dropout rates. The parent-community support system can be strengthened, with the parents and the community as a whole participating more actively in the education of the young. The system of delivering instruction can be suited to meet the needs of students and parents as well.

6. Children's value formation and search for role models are subject to many influences. A potent factor influencing children in middle childhood is the mass media. About 93 per cent of the population has access to at least one form of mass media. Radio is the most pervasive, with 82 per cent of total households having access to it. Some 49 per cent and 38 per cent of the population have access to television and comics, respectively (UNICEF-GOP 1992).

Radio can be used to reach children in inaccessible areas whose formal education is disadvantaged by their location. School-on-the-air programs offer alternative ways of reaching these children. There is a need to study how best to make the current distance education schemes more effective and more easily linked to accreditation systems. Narrowing the gap between the "information have's and have-not's" is an issue that must be addressed especially in relation to protecting the working children in remote rural communities where radio is the only link to the outside world and where current literacy levels exclude print as a viable medium for communicating with them. At present, radio programs in formats that appeal to children and with content relevant to them are rare. But some interactive forms of radio programs can be applied to community settings. It will only require some investment in educational programs to involve community members in developing the radio programs.

In more urbanized environments, television is a potent tool for non-formal learning because of the visual. A survey showed that children watch television for three to five hours on weekdays and at least five hours on weekends. Child-oriented programs, mostly imported, consist mainly of cartoons, games, variety shows and a few news and educational programs. Children and youth programs comprise less than five per cent of total broadcast time. Thus, children tune in mainly to adult-oriented programs. The potential of TV in the learning process especially outside the formal school system and within the context of home and community is still largely untapped. There are very few examples of good quality local children's programming really intended to support the learning experiences of children. The experiences of the Philippine Children's Television Foundation show that it is possible to combine education and entertainment to supplement the learning experiences of children through different forms of media. There must be a more proactive stand in maximizing the potentials of TV especially for urban working children.

Distance education through radio, television or print, or a combination of media, has yet to work in this country. There is a lack of sustained commitment from the public and private sectors. Commercial interests vis-à-vis public interest must be balanced. It should be remembered that children comprise a significant part of the public served by media. Distance education need not be a costly intervention especially when public television can be operationalized in the country rather than allow the continued dominance of commercial television.

Working Children and National Educational Policies:
View from the Top

Often the macro processes affecting the lives of working children are seen as needing long-term responses since immediate actions are deemed not viable. However, the relationships between child labor, education and socialization indicate that there are immediate responses based on policies that recognize these relationships.

1. Public expenditure for education. Foremost among the issues on child labor and education is the fact that many working children work precisely to be able to stay in school. In families which attach value to formal school, the children work in order to augment family income to afford the expenses needed to stay in school and complete the formal schooling. Children need to combine schooling with work inside and outside the home before and/or after school.

This requires a national policy such as increasing the budget for public education, to ensure that the basic day to day schooling needs of a child, over and above what the family can afford, are provided.

2. Convergence of social services and focusing on children and families at greatest risk. Experiences of the Philippine CEDC programs suggest that approaches must be multi-level, multifaceted and integrated. For example, "value education" programs aimed at behavioral changes have limited impact when not supported by changes in the children's material situation. It is meaningless to urge children to follow good hygienic practices when their family's access to water and sewers is limited. The legal, social and practical aspects of children's situation must be addressed synergistically (Szanton Blanc 1994).

There must be some investment to enhance institutional and management capability of the government, particularly at the local level, to identify children and families at risk and develop convergent program models that assure basic social services as safety nets for these children and families.

3. Community responsibility for and real ownership of schools should be considered an alternative to a situation where community education is seen outside of the system, especially when the system fails to deliver the services. However, this community initiative is seen as inferior to the formal system. If there is no redirection in government policy toward this alternative, it is unlikely that active and sustained community participation in education, whether formal, non-formal or informal, will be possible.

Within the context of formal educational system, it is also worth looking into the possibility of greater community control in school leadership and management. The educational system--like most other social services--is still characterized by a "client-provider" relationship and the "professional-lay person" dichotomy. If we truly expect families and communities to assume more responsibility for their learning, we should facilitate and actually mobilize their more active participation in decision-making about educational programs in their own communities.

4. Assessment of national economic development goals and policies and their impact on children and families in rural and urban communities. Attention must be paid to rural development, especially to the provision of programs and services that would enable the poorest families to address food security, health and education for all members.

Ensure that urban renewal and development programs do not compromise the welfare of children and families. Resettlement should be planned carefully to ensure that families will not be dislocated and their survival threatened. Families and communities should be consulted and promises fulfilled to give a "human face" to development.

5. The problem of unemployment and lack of opportunities because of uneven investments in development opportunities, particularly for working class, peasant families and the informal service sector, are directly related to the working child's decision to stay in school or to a family's decision to invest its limited resources in school-related expenses. It is difficult to look too far toward a future that offers no significant change in the quality of life when the situation itself is insecure. "To make a fast peso today and feed a hungry stomach" or "to read and write but not to eat," these are some of the questions in real life that economic planners and government officials must ask about the education of working children.

However, there is a caveat in developing national policy for the education of working children and children in especially difficult circumstances. Schooling has been perceived as a panacea to the social problems of children. Compulsory, full-time and universal primary education is seen as the all-important antidote to juvenile delinquency and crime. But researches in many countries have shown that schooling by itself does not end child labour nor juvenile delinquency (Niewenhuys, Boyden 1991). There must first be a serious effort to address social inequity. It is also time for the educational system to take responsibility for school failure, drop-outs and other difficulties within the system.

The problems of working children need immediate and short-term responses combined with a systematic and committed approach to addressing the deeper and bigger issues that need long-term solutions. The problems of work, schooling and education are related, and children themselves must be active participants in solving these problems. Working children have varied aspirations, needs and interests. Careful attention must be paid to what they have to say. The "invisible" children must be found soon, and people concerned must be prepared to listen to them and not assume that they know what to do. The visible children must be given not just a voice, but the right to participate in making decisions about the options available to them for their education.

Traditionally, Filipinos aspire for education because it is a preparation for the world of work. For millions of Filipino children who work, this is no longer applicable; they are already working, though not being paid well for the back-breaking, psychologically and physically draining work. So what lies ahead at the end of the ladder when it is work and school or work and no school? Will the promise of a good job in the future be sufficient motivation for them to finish schooling?

Kaya ako nag-aaral para may malaman ako sa pagbasa, para umunlad ang kabuhayan namin. Kung hindi ako mag-aaral, hindi ko matutupad ang pangarap ko. Kaya nga nag-aaral, para matupad." (I am studying so I will learn things from reading, for a better life. My dreams will not come true if I don't study. That's exactly why I'm in school, so that my dreams can be fulfilled.)

"Kaya kami nag-aaral ay para makatulong sa nanay sa pagtatrabaho kung nakatapos na kami." (We are studying so that we can help our mother earn when we finish.)

-- Juvilyn, 11

"Kaya ako nag-aaral para yung isip ko ay magkaroon ng maraming kaalaman tungkol sa buhay, para makatapos ako ng pag-aaral hanggang college. Kaya ako nag-aaral para makamit ko ang kagandahan ng buhay ng aking pamilya --makatulong."

"Mas mahalaga pa sa akin ang pag-aaral kaysa sa ginto, lalo na kung ako ay makatapos."

"Pinag-aaral ako ng magulang ko dahil ito lang ang kayang ipamana ng aking mga magulang sa akin hanggang sa paglaki ko."

I am studying so that I will learn about life, so that I can get a college degree. I am studying so that I can give my family a good life--so that I can help.

For me, education is even more important than gold, especially if I graduate.

My parents are sending me to school because education is the only thing they can give me that will endure.

-- Cathelyn, 13

"Para sa akin iba't iba ang anyo ng edukasyon na nararanasan ng bawat batang Pilipino. May mga kabataang salat sa edukasyon, mayroon din namang tama o sapat na edukasyon."

"Para sa katulad kong kailangan pang kumita ng pera para panggastos sa mga projects, baon at contribution sa school, talagang mahirap pagkasyahin ang perang tira sa bulsa para pagkasyahin sa lahat ng gastusin sa school namin. Kung tatanungin naman ang turo o lecture sa school, ayun, minsan maraming teachers ang laging absent pero okey na rin kasi kahit papaano, every English time, allowed ka sa Tagalog. But that is not my point. Kasi karamihan sa amin ay hindi marunong mag-English. At kapag tinanong namin ang turo sa private school, awa ng Diyos, nahuhuli kami."

"Sa tingin ko, hindi sapat na edukasyon ang aking nararanasan ngayon."

Education takes many forms, depending on the experiences of each Filipino child. Some children lack education, some have enough.

For children like me who still have to work in order to have money for projects, food and school contributions, it is really difficult to stretch what little we have so that we can pay for all the expenses. If you ask me about the quality of teaching in school, a lot of teachers are always absent. But that's okay because that way, we are allowed to speak in Tagalog during English period. If you compare the quality of teaching in our school with that of private schools, we really lag behind.

I think I am not getting the quality of education that I should have.

--Arlene, 15

"Bumibili ako ng uniform nila minsan isang taon. Iyong iba binibigay na lang. Ang sapatos naman ay buwanan kung ako ay bumili kasi iyong tig-P150 lang ang kaya ko. Sa mga baon nila, P5 bawat isa sa kanila, apat pa naman iyan. Kung wala namang pera ay P2 lang bawat isa. Kung minsan talagang wala. Kung sa mga supplies naman, hindi kasi pare-pareho kung kailan sila humingi. Tulad ni Marie, kahapon P30 kaagad ang nagastos sa mga supplies pa lang. Sa mga other fees na binabayaran ko, halos P100 ang nagagastos ko sa buong taon sa isa pa lang sa kanila. Sa mga projects naman, kaya sila bumabagsak kasi hindi maka-submit--wala naman akong pera kasi."

"Iyong kalahati ng gastos kay Marie kasi miyembro ng CB ay sinasagot ng SCWSC pero kung minsan mas malaki pa rin ang gastos ko."

I buy them each a set of school uniforms only once a year. The other sets are old ones handed down. I have to buy school shoes for them once a month since I can only afford the ones that cost only P150 each and the children wear them out so quickly. I give them P5 lunch money each, and there are four of them. But when we don't have enough money, they only get P2 each. Sometimes I can't give them anything at all. Expenses for supplies vary from child to child. Take Marie. Yesterday she asked me P30 for supplies. With the other fees, I spend almost P100 per child. Sometimes they get failing marks for their projects because they are not able to submit anything--I really don't have the money for those projects.

Because Marie is a member of the Children's Brigade, SCWSC pays for half of her expenses. But in spite of that, I still spend a substantial amount.

- Tisay Indong, mother of Marie, 14 and Rebecca, 12

"Masama ang dating sa akin ng first grading. Marami akong tagilid na subjects. Ayaw ko na sa section I, hindi ko kapareho ang mga tao, walang kalayaan. Limang libro na nga ang nawawala sa akin, kulang na lang isa para lahat na. Pero ngayon gumaganda na. Nagpapahinga ako para makabawi sa grades."

I didn't do too well during the first grading period. I don't know whether I'll pass several of my subjects. I don't like being in section I anymore; I am not like the people there--no freedom. I am already missing five books; one more and I will not have a single book left. But things are starting to look better. I am resting so I can get higher grades.

-- Arlene Albis, 15*

"Ngayon lang ako umuwi ng gabi kasi naglinis pa kami sa school. Tuwang-tuwa ako kasi lahat ng subjects ko ay nagawan ko ng project."

I went home late for the first time today because we had to clean the school. But I am so happy because I was able to complete my projects for all the subjects.

-- Dulce Cayabyab, 15*

Additional Examples of Educational Programs for Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances

Source: INNOV Database, UNESCO

Breaking Ground for Community Action on Child Labor (Child Labor Project)
Implementing agencies: DECS, DOLE, UNICEF

This project resulted from researches by the UP on patterns and trends in child labor and later integrated into the Country Programme for Children. It is an action research program that aims to improve the conditions of child workers and their families. Interventions include situation analysis through participatory research, community organizing, livelihood assistance, collaboration with GOs and NGOs, advocacy and social mobilization, service delivery and integration of the project in regular GO programs. It is implemented through the Program Implementation Committee at the local level and through the Regional Child Labor Program Committee at the regional level, headed by the DOLE regional director.

Bahay Tuluyan Program for Street Children of Malate

The project provides 100-200 street children and victims of abuse, exploitation and drug abuse with alternative education to give them a sense of worth in terms of being able to contribute to society. Services include basic education, artistic and musical education, English lessons, typing, sewing, and lesson in the social sciences. The ultimate objective is to get the children off the streets by engaging them in productive, alternative activities.

Community of Learners Foundation

COLF's educational strategies have been recognized as viable alternatives to traditional approaches to education and community-based service delivery. From the beginning, it has served as a resource center for teachers, social workers, community development workers and health workers who have no access to other schools.

The "School for Children" serves as a demonstration school and a training center for adults. The educational programs are learner-centered, socially and culturally relevant, and build on the interaction between family and community. The teaching/learning methods are interactive, with curiosity considered as the best motivation to learn. The students are deliberately recruited from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and include children with special needs.

COLF's training programs designed for parents, teachers, and community development workers include experience of working with adults in the Foundation's community-based programs. Innovative methods, such as catering to special needs of adults as learners, are being used. The final aim of COLF's programs is to train all community members as potential educators and development workers.

One of COLF's programs is undertaken jointly with the Defence for Children-International (Phil.) as part of a participatory action research program with a workplace-based educational program. The Children's Brigade has been implemented since 1992 and the Action Research Program was initiated in 1994.

Paaralang Pang Tao

Paaralang Pang Tao is the school of an urban poor community in Quezon City, open day and evening for street children, parents, community members. It has developed street-based activities since 1982 to offer an alternative to the formal school system and to counter the high drop-out rates in the area. Parents are involved through the neighborhood organization and participate in financing and running the project. Educational materials are made by the parents from junk materials from the community dumpsite. A "facilitator" (often mothers or young people who completed high school) helps students to study, takes responsibility for their learning and monitors achievement. The basic education curriculum emphasizes humanistic activities, social interaction and communication. Children at age 12-13 are assumed to be ready to take the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT). Drama is the core teaching/learning method. The Children's Laboratory for Drama in Education (one of the project founders) organizes drama training workshops, which are a main source of revenue to cover staff costs.

Parent Learning Support System (PLSS)

This project is being tested and developed by the Bureau of Elementary Education of DECS in Leyte and in Quezon City. It aims to raise achievement levels of students in disadvantaged communities and the quality of education in schools through mobilization of parents and community members. It is an innovative mechanism for active participation of family and community members in teaching-learning in elementary schools. With guidance from teachers, groups are formed to assist and monitor the performance of school children. Operationally, the PLSS is a grassroots strategy which represents a collective effort to coordinate with principals and teachers. The strategy used to raise the achievement levels of pupils consists of a preliminary survey to determine the socio-economic status of parents, study habits and out-of-school activities of each pupil, and in individual tests to establish academic profiles. Parent education seminars are held to strengthen the ability of parents to support their children. Close contacts between teachers, parents and students are maintained throughout the year. The school administrator acts as overall coordinator and manager of the PLSS. Activities in each PLSS class are the responsibility of the teachers and parents.

The most prominent gain of the educational system from PLSS is the fostering of direct and strong relationships with the community and families that the schools serve. The learning environment of children has significantly improved. Institutional changes are noticeable, such as school administrators being sensitized to the needs of families and communities. The schools have created many opportunities to make their contributions count. The program has continuously demonstrated its ability to raise the achievement levels of pupils, cognitively and effectively.

Street Teaching, Alternate Remedial Training (START)

The project provides basic education through non-traditional methods, to enable street children to enter the formal school system. The idea is to bring the children back into the community and the education process.

Smokey Mountain: A Pilot Project for Young Scavengers in Metro Manila
Implementing agency: Educational Research for Development Assistance Foundation

This project was a community-based collaborative project of DOLE and community associations in the slum areas of Metro Manila. It aims to eliminate scavenging among children in the slums and promote their welfare. Interventions include protected work and income generating projects, vocational training, non-formal education, value formation activities, support for formal schooling, protective services, and livelihood projects and employment for parents. Management and supervision of the project was transferred to ERDA in 1991. At present, there are 150 children being services by ERDA.

Street children compose the target group of ERDA. This NGO provides material support for formal, technical or vocational schooling, and engages in job placement. Livelihood projects are also supported in terms of a socialized credit system for the youth. Tutorials, financial assistance, health care and nutrition activities are also conducted for the children.

Lingap Center Program
Implementing agency: DSWD

This project was designed for streetchildren under 13 years of age. It is a growth center for those who run away from home or were abandoned by their families. Its aims include improving the general well-being of children in preparation for their return to their families or for independent living, creating opportunities to develop their potentials toward a better future, and encouraging positive attitudes such as respect, trust, and cooperation. There are currently 17 Lingap Centers all over the country, which have so far served 3,704 children.

Street Schools for Street Children
Implementing agencies: DSWD, DOH and selected NGOs

This project is for streetchildren who are still in contact with their families. It aims to provide educational support and counselling services to the children and their families by bringing the services to their workplace in the form of tent schools. Services include alternative education, income generation, health and nutrition, recreational and cultural services, and spiritual formation. Self-learning modules are also developed to enable children to learn at their own pace.

Alternative Employment and Livelihood Opportunities for Children
and Their Affected Families in the Muro-Ami Fishing Operations
Implementing agency: Bureau of Women and Young Workers-DOLE

This project aims to provide alternative livelihood options to the families of displaced child workers in the Muro-Ami fishing operations. Two income-generating projects were introduced in the communities: A soap-making project has benefited 83 families while a goat-raising project has benefited 24 families. The center of service delivery is housed in the Community Youth Development Center.

Working Youth Centers
Implementing agency: BWYW-DOLE

Established for delivery of services to the youth, the 20 Working Youth Centers are located in rural and less urbanized centers in nine regions, and were designed as part of the National Action Plan for the Decade of the Filipino Child. Services include employment promotion and income generation, information and communication, education and training, and welfare assistance. From 1985 to 1991, the project has served more than 17,000 young workers, assisted 256 livelihood projects, and facilitated the formation of 121 youth organizations.

Skills Training for Out-of-School Youth
Implementing agency: National Manpower and Youth Council

Industrial skills and livelihood opportunities are provided to out-of-school youths aged 15-24 through the conduct of training programs. Strategies/schemes include community training programs, regional training centers, training contract schemes, industry board training programs, women in trades and technology, training for rebel returnees, entrepreneurship development, provincial training centers, satellite training centers, area trainers training, and garments industry training programs.

Marilac Hills
Implementing agency: DSWD-NCR

This is a rehabilitation center for prostituted girls under 18 years of age. Services include providing subsidized meals, schooling and skills training. The families of these girls are also given livelihood assistance.

Project "Joel"
Implementing agency: Trade Union Congress of the Philippines

Named after the sacada worker who died of starvation during the Negros sugar industry collapse, this project's general aim is to eliminate child labor. The objectives include active involvement of trade unions in the campaign against child labor, prevention of exploitation of child workers, prevention of the depression of labor market benefits due to competition between adult and child workers, advocacy for sanctions against companies involved in child labor, and collaboration with government and NGOs on child labor issues. Strategies used toward realization of objectives include educational campaigns, advocacy through national and international pressure groups, participation in legislative processes on child labor, and social mobilization.

Kamalayan Development Center, Inc.

This NGO is engaged in child labor protection by helping government monitor the presence of child laborers in factories and enforce laws on child labor standards.

Operation Silungan
Implementing agencies: Tahanan Outreach Projects and Services (TOPS) and
Christian Children's Fund (CCF)

This project provides temporary shelter to street boys, at least 15 years of age who have run away from home while efforts to locate their families are made. Services include special classes towards eventual integration into the public school system, psychological services, health and medical services, sports and recreation activities. Referrals are also given for children's employment, in coordination with several other agencies.


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Werner, E.E. and R. Smith. 1982. Vulnerable but Invincible, A Longitudinal Study of Resilient Children and Youth. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Zeitlin, M.H. Ghassemi and M. Mansour. 1990. Positive Deviance in Child Nutrition, with Emphasis on Psychosocial and Behavioural Aspects and Implications for Development. Tokyo: The United Nations University.


Aida Hinlo, Acting Chief, Continuing Education Division, Bureau of Non-Formal Education, DECS

Dr. Claire B. Gamez, Chief, Literacy Division, Bureau of Non-formal Education, DECS

Labe, Caridad C. Labe, Schools Division Superintendent, DECS-Lapu-Lapu City

1There are 44,000 barangays in the country, one-third of which has only primary schools.
2The PSSC Study Report (1991), sponsored by Unicef-ICDC in four cities, consisted of 298 in-depth interviews of street-based children in six cities, and 120 interviews of the households of some of the children.
The BNFE was involved in the UNICEF-assisted Child Labor Project.

To Learn and To Earn Education and Child Labour in the Philippines



To Learn and To Earn Education and Child Labour in the Philippines