MANILA – Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday said there is a need to pay more attention to the situation of out-of-school youth (OSY), particularly at this time when their numbers are growing due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Angara noted that the increase in the number of OSY is a serious issue that could lead to bigger problems later on if left unchecked.
Based on data from the Department of Education (DepEd), close to 4 million students were not able to enroll for the current school year.
As of Aug. 11, 2020, the DepEd noted that some 23 million have enrolled in both public and private schools, a significant reduction from the 27.7 million enrollees in 2019.
The DepEd said 2.75 million of the 4 million who did not enroll were private school students.
“We understand that the sharp drop in enrollment for the current school year was due to the restrictions on face-to-face education. We hope to see these figures improve once our schools start to open up again, albeit gradually,” Angara said. “What worries me is that many of the children who were not able to enroll last year could end up missing even more time out of school or worse, drop out completely for one reason or another.”
Based on 2017 Philippine Statistics Authority data, 9 percent or 3.53 million of the estimated 39.2 Filipinos aged 6 to 24 years old were considered OSYs.
Of that number, 83.1 percent consist of individuals 16 to 24 years old, 11.2 percent were 12 to 15 years old, and 5.7 percent were 6 to 11 years old.
The PSA data indicated that the most common reasons among OSYs for not attending school were marriage or family matters, lack of personal interest, and high cost of education or financial concerns.
Around 50 percent of OSYs belong to families whose income fall within the bottom 30 percent of the population based on their per capita income.
“The data is alarming and there is a real danger that we’ll end up with even more OSYs now because of the impact of the pandemic on family incomes and the challenges posed by blended learning on both students and their parents alike,” Angara said.
To help address the issue, Angara is pushing for the establishment of a Magna Carta of the OSYs as proposed in his Senate Bill 1090.
The bill seeks to strengthen the State’s mandate of instituting policies and programs for the development of OSYs in the country and to encourage them to seek out the various opportunities available to them.
Angara said a whole-of-government approach will be needed to effectively address the needs and concerns of OSYs, with the DepEd, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Trade and Industry as the agencies leading the charge.
Among the different programs that are envisioned to come out as a result of the Magna Carta of the OSY are the free mandatory technical/vocational education through TESDA and the inclusion in the government scholarships under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education through the CHED.
Apart from ensuring OSYs get a proper education, the government will also see to it that they receive all health benefits under the law, as well as the appropriate social services.
The government will also be tasked to help OSYs get employed or find a viable source of livelihood by providing them with the skills or livelihood support.
Under the bill, OSY refers to members of the population who are 15 to 30 years old, who are not in school, not gainfully employed, and have not finished college or a post-secondary course.
Apart from Angara’s SB 1090, similar bills seeking to establish a Magna Carta of the OSY were also filed by Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay and Ramon Revilla Jr. (PR)