By Ms JOAN L. LAGATA
Education Program Supervisor
Elementary Education Division
Department of Education Regional Office-V, Legazpi City
LEGAZPI CITY: With barely two years remaining before the end of the Millennium Development Goal in 2015, dropout school children and students remain one of the main obstacles in achieving the "Education For All" (EFA) campaign set out by the government through the Department of Education.
This is especially true in Bicol Region as the result of a research study showed a significant figure of dropouts particularly in secondary.
Though there was a downward trend in dropout figures in elementary- 0.88 per cent in school year 2009-10, 0.82% in 2010-2011 and 0.72% in 2011-12- the quantity was still significant if converted into absolute numbers.
The scenario becomes even more alarming in the case of high school students as it reached five-digit figures.
The rate was 5.62% in school year 2009-10, went up to 6.13% in 2010-11 and down to 5.43% in 2011-12.
Converted into absolute number, the dropouts in 2011-12 were about 21,154 based on actual enrolment in secondary which totalled 389,582 as contained in the region's Enhanced Basic Education Information System (EBEIS).
The top three divisions in the elementary level which posted high dropout rates were Sorsogon City with 1.32%,
Camarines Sur-1.16 per cent and Masbate province-0.9 per cent while in secondary division it was Camarines Norte which chalked up the highest at 7.99 per cent followed by Masbate City with 7.78 per cent, Sorsogon province with 6.38 per cent and Camarines Sur not far behind with 6.20 per cent.
Without necessarily looking into the economic status of dropouts, it could be easily determined that economically marginalized pupils and students composed the biggest portion of the statistics.
In elementary majority of the children cited child labour as the main cause for dropping out at 15.92% while in secondary more than a quarter (26.92%) cited plain poverty as the reason.
Also listed as risk factors for elementary were transfer of residence (15.92 per cent), poverty (13.63%), illness (11.36%), overage (9.09%), domestic problems (6.82%), differently-able (6.82%), distance of home, differences in culture and academically unprepared at 4.55% each, physical disability and transferred without permanent record and juvenile delinquency with 2.27% each.
In secondary, a shorter list of risk factors was noted though it was evident that poverty was also the underlying common factor.
Child-labor and distance from school both have 19.23% each in the list, transfer of residence was cited by 7.69%, congested rooms, transfer to ALS and early marriage also got a similar rate at 3.85% each.
What is unique in the secondary dropout statistics was the inclusion of students who did not actually enter in the official list of enrolment, which got 11.53% which means that about 2,439 were ghost students or pupils!
To address the situation affected schools initiated some interventions which included home visitation, dialogue with parents, intensification of "Gulayan sa Paaralan", strengthening of Feeding Program, financial support to affected students and modular learning.
Aside from the interventions initiated by the elementary school administrations, additional remedial measures were also suggested to them which include modular learning for ill pupils and those who were needed at home periodically and the conduct of remedial classes.
Non-instructional mode were also suggested like home visitation, parent education, involvement of parents in school activities, advancement of Adopt-A-Pupil Program, dialogue with parents, counselling, strengthening community linkage, expansion of Gulayan sa Paaralan to become income-generating project, completion of temporary shelter for pupils and repair of classrooms.
In secondary level, the instructional interventions advocated were the use of EASE modules for seasonal absentee, conduct of remedial classes and the implementation of the Open High School Program and the non-instructional interventions similar to that of the elementary level.
As a result of the research study, and based on the findings and conclusions, some recommendations were forwarded which include:
1. Organization of Regional and Division Alternative Delivery Modes (ADMs) Teams which shall be properly capacitated so that they can closely monitor and properly act on dropout problems;
2. Crafting of annual work plan in both regional and division levels with the end in view of reducing if not totally eliminating the dropout in Bicol Region;
3. Orientation of Principals and the school DORP teams on the significance of their roles specially in identifying the needs of pupils/students at-risk of dropping out as well as on how they can initiate interventions to address those needs;
4. Advising or cautioning school heads against submitting inaccurate data of enrolments and dropouts as part of the EBEIS which seriously affect regional database;
5. Conduct of orientation and trainings for division ADM teams, school principals and elementary and secondary teachers on the implementation of ADMs like Modified In-School Off-School Approach (MISOSA), Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers (IMPACT) and the Open High School Program (OHSP);
6. Close monitoring and supervision of schools implementing MISOSA, IMPACT,OHSP and locally-developed interventions; and
7. Regular annual assessment of the impact of implementation of ADMs and locally-developed interventions for possible revisions, adjustments and benchmarking.
Needless to say, the battle against dropout problem is a work in progress.
It's a tedious process that needs the full attention and cooperation not only of the school administrators and teachers but most especially of the students and their parents in particular and the community in general. -- Bicol Mail