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The real cost of education in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Last June, we saw the power of social media at work with the story of nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera. After a photo of him doing his homework outside a fast food restaurant went viral, he has now received support in the form of school supplies, cash donations, and even a scholarship grant.

His inspiring story shows us that there is much to hope for in the Filipino youth, and that at a young age, many of them believe in the importance of education. Unfortunately, not all children are as lucky as Daniel. According to the Department of Education (DepEd), 6.38% of elementary school students dropped out of school in 2011-2012. For high school students that year, the drop out rate is even higher, with 7.82% deciding to leave in the middle of the school year or not enroll for the next.

Dropping out

There are several factors as to why some parents choose not to enroll their children, or why children drop out of school. In a 2012 paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, it was revealed that the most critical factors that determine a child’s schooling include parental and teacher perceptions on school readiness, educational attainment of the child’s parents, and varying expectations on boys and girls. But the most common problem is poverty.

Philippine public schools do not charge tuition fees, but it’s not the only financial consideration. School supplies, uniform costs, meals and transportation add up to the costs as well. When an emergency occurs, such as a family member falling ill, or a parent losing his job, it also usually forces the child to drop out of school.

Not having access to education will affect a child’s ability to get ahead in life and contribute to his family’s betterment. That is the real cost of missing out on education. To help address this problem, Convergys Philippines launched “Give A Bag of Hope”, a campaign that donated backpacks filled with school supplies to elementary public school students in 26 local schools and communities. Through cash donations, direct contributions of school supplies, employee referral, and volunteer work, Convergys employees helped provide these children a shot at continuing their education.