Voltaire Tupaz looks at out-of-school youth and poverty numbers in the face of economic progress.
Do the poor feel the stunning economic growth in the Philippines?
The country’s social welfare secretary says the answer is yes!
As debt decreases, money for social services like education increases.
As the school year opens, half a billion pesos are set aside for 4,000 college scholars from poor families covered by the Conditional Cash Transfer program.
DINKY SOLIMAN, SOCIAL WELFARE SECRETARY: This is an effort to make sure inclusive growth is within reach to poor families.
One of the students is 17-year old Rea May Soliven of Compostela Valley.
Typhoon Pablo almost swept away her dream of finishing college.
REA MAY SOLIVEN, SCHOLARSHIP BENEFICIARY: Syempre po malaking epekto po yun kase yung pang kabuhayan po kase naming doon is banana plantation and then after po sa bagyo wasak na wasak talaga sya…. Doon po talaga yung kabuhayan po namin. (We were greatly affected by the typhoon which devastated the banana plantation, our main source of income. It’s our source of livelihood.)
The Commission on Higher Education says the student assistance program sends kids like Rea May to school and helps them get jobs after graduation.
DR PATRICIA LICUANAN, COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION CHAIR: We are saying these people are starting from a disadvantage, so we have to give them preferential options and truly work harder to keep them in. Then gradually, gradually they started stepping up and doing what they had to do.
But not everyone is as lucky as Rea May.
When classes resume, at least 7.93 million students will be out of school.
The government says sustained growth these past 3 years actually make the dream of reducing poverty attainable.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers, its about the people.
Voltaire Tupaz, Rappler, Manila.
[WATCH: Full Rappler Newscast | May 30 2013] – Rappler.com