Govt urged to include older kids in CCT
MANILA, Philippines - The government will get higher returns for its educational investments if the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program also covered older children, a study released by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed.
The study, called Promoting Inclusive Growth through the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), stated that children who graduate from high school can earn as much as P246 a day, or 40% higher than the P186 average daily wage received by elementary graduates.
"The study therefore deems it favorable to extend the coverage to up to 16 to 18 years of age to enable the 4Ps children to finish high school and to increase the period of coverage from 5 to 10 years or even longer. Enabling the children to finish high school poses more benefits," the study stated.
"This would likely boost their wages when they enter the labor market and eventually increase the chance of breaking intergenerational poverty as it will increase investments in human capital," it added.
The research stated the impact of the CCTs will be greater if older children, those aged 15 to 18 years olds, will also be covered by the assistance. Currently, the program covers only children aged zero to 14 years old
"Older Filipino children also have lower attendance rates than younger ones, which is an understandable empirical fact. However, the 4Ps focuses on the younger age range, thus limiting the intervention to poor families with children 14 years old and below. This is despite the fact that school participation is higher among elementary school children than older ones," the study read.
The authors said the school attendance rate of children aged 15 to 18 years old was at 62.85% in 2007. It made little improvement to 65.47% in 2011 based on the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS).
In contrast, the study stated that the school attendance rate of younger children aged 6 to 11 was significantly higher at 94.42% in 2007. This is a decline from 97.13% in 2011, but the authors said achieving a 100% school attendance rate in primary school "is just around the corner."
"While we would certainly like to achieve universal access to basic education, the problem of non-attendance is more severe among older children," the study stated. "If (older children) would have been targeted by the program, the chances of making a great difference would have been simply larger."
The Philippine conditional cash transfer program targets extremely poor families and provides P300 a month for every child in each family. A maximum of 3 children can benefit under the program, or P3,000 for a school year (i.e., 10 months) for meeting educational expenses. There is also a health component that allots P6,000 annually for each family or P500 per month.
Targeted children are those aged up to 14 years old. The maximum period of assistance is 5 years. For example, a poor family with a 3-year-old child can only be assisted up until he or she turns 8. On the other hand, one that has only a 12-year-old adolescent can be assisted for two years.
The study was authored by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Celia Reyes and 3 other researchers from the state-owned think tank: Audrey Tabuga, Christian Mina, and Ronina Asis. - Rappler.com