Grade School Participation Rate Plunges to 16-Year Low


Since it came to power more than seven years ago, the Arroyo administration has, among other feats, earned the distinction of bringing down the elementary school level participation rate to a 16-year low. The secondary school participation rate, meanwhile, has decreased by as much as 14.85 percentage points since 2001.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 22, July 6-12, 2008

Since it came to power through a popular uprising more than seven years ago, the Arroyo administration has, among other feats, earned the distinction of bringing down the participation rate (the proportion of the number of enrollees at the prescribed level of education for their age) at the elementary school level to a 16-year low.

The secondary school participation rate, meanwhile, has decreased by 14.85 percentage points since 2001.

According to the Department of Education (DepEd), elementary schools posted a participation rate of 99.10 percent for school year 1990-1991. It decreased to 85.10 percent the following school year, but rose to 85.21 percent in school year 1992-1993, continuously increasing until school year 1999-2000 when it reached 96.95 percent. It slightly decreased in school year 2000-2001, but went on another upward trend until school year 2002-2003 when it plunged to 90.29 percent from the previous school year’s 97.00 percent.

This was the start of a continuous downward trend. From 90.29 percent in school year 2002-2003, elementary school participation rates decreased to 88.74 percent in 2003-2004, 87.11 percent in 2004-2005, 84.44 percent in 2005-2006, and 83.22 percent in 2006-2007. The 2006-2007 elementary school participation rate is actually the lowest in 16 years. (See Table 1)

Table 1. Elementary School Participation Rates, 1990-2007

School Year

Participation Rate (%)

1990-1991

99.10

1991-1992

85.10

1992-1993

85.21

1995-1996

92.70

1996.1997

94.33

1997-1998

95.09

1998-1999

95.73

1999-2000

96.95

2000-2001

96.40

2001-2002

97.00

2002-2003

90.29

2003-2004

88.74

2004-2005

87.11

2005-2006

84.44

2006-2007

83.22

Source: Department of Education

At first glance, the statistics appear to be better at the secondary level. With the participation rate at 54.71 percent in school year 1990-1991 and 58.59 in school year 2006-2007, it could at least be said that the secondary school participation rate did not reach a 16-year low under the Arroyo administration.

However, the secondary school participation rate of school year 2006-2007 represents a 14.85-percentage point reduction since 2001. (See Table 2)

Table 2. Secondary School Participation Rates, 1990-2007

School Year

Participation Rate (%)

1990-1991

54.71

1991-1992

55.42

1992-1993

56.75

1993-1994

57.62

1994-1995

58.47

1995-1996

62.25

1996-1997

63.38

1997-1998

64.04

1998-1999

65.22

1999-2000

65.43

2000-2001

72.25

2001-2002

73.44

2002-2003

59.00

2003-2004

60.15

2004-2005

59.97

2005-2006

58.54

2006-2007

58.59

Source: Department of Education

What proved to be a continuous upward trend from 1990 to 2002 in secondary level participation rates was cut drastically in school year 2002-2003, which showed a steep 14.44-percentage point decline. The participation rate improved slightly in the next school year before going down again in 2004-2005. The 0.05-percentage point increase from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007 was not enough to even bring back the secondary level participation rate to the school year 2003-2004 level.

“If we compare the period from 2001 to 2007 to that of 1990 to 2000, we can see that the poverty incidence is higher now compared to the previous decade,” said France Castro, secretary-general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and president of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA). “Basic goods have become so expensive that the parents of our students have become unable to afford even basic education. They now find it very difficult to send their children to school.”

“And even if basic education is said to be free, it’s not really free,” Castro added. “There are still many fees collected from students, like Red Cross fees and anti-tuberculosis fees, for instance.”

Castro said that there have been nominal increases in the basic education budget in both periods. However, she pointed out that the increases were bigger in 1990-2000 than in 2001-2007.

Estimates by the socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation show that the government now spends P2,000 ($44.00 at the July 4 exchange rate of $1:P45.45) per Filipino for education – or only 14 percent, in real terms, of what it spent in 1998.

The Philippine government currently spends 12.0 percent of its public expenditure and 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education – way below the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) standards of 22.0 percent of public expenditures and 6.0 percent of GDP. Bulatlat

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