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At Php750 a Month, You Can Help a Child Go to School
PHOTO BY @worldvisionphl/Instagram
  • For every two students in the Philippines enrolled in school, one child is denied this basic right. Every year, nearly 25 million students from age 6 to 24 flock to schools across the country. What's keeping another 12 million from joining them?

    Young as they are, 29 percent of this excluded number are already working or looking for work. Sixteen percent admit their families cannot afford it, and 15 percent confess they have no interest to pursue education. 

    These statistics come from the 2013 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), a survey conducted by the National Statistics Office every five years. In response to this tragic reality, the government launched programs beginning 2014 to promote greater school participation.

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    A more recent set of data from the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey reports that about nine percent of nearly 40 million young Filipinos remain as out-of-school children and youth. A majority (37 percent) are already married or have other family matters holding them back. A quarter (24.7 percent) blame it on lack of personal interest while 18 percent have financial concerns and complain about the high cost of tuition.

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    There have been some improvements since 2013, but as we await the next FLEMMS results which will be out within the year based on national poverty indicators, millions of children continue to be denied access to education. 

    Problems in education might result in more children and adults becoming functionally illiterate

    While a number of privately-run schools have adjusted their opening days toward August in line with international schools, the Department of Education recently announced that public schools will keep June as the start of the academic year.

    And here lies the urgency of the problem. This gap, if not addressed, could soon translate to more children and adults becoming functionally illiterate not only today but in the future. They are or will remain economically unproductive and a burden to the country’s already limited resources.

    This is where the aid from the non-profit sector is most welcome. One of the leading advocates for children empowerment in the Philippines is World Vision.

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    Since 1957, World Vision in the Philippines has been reaching out to the most vulnerable children and families through its Child Sponsorship program. The foundation began its work on the island province of Guimaras where it aided at least 300 orphans, providing them educational and feeding assistance. Nearly six decades later, it now has 75,000 children under World Vision’s care in the Philippines.

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    “Our work is made possible thanks to the generosity and commitment of about 17,000 Filipino child sponsors and other supporters from around the world including Overseas Filipino Workers,” says World Vision executive director Rommel Fuerte.

    A child-focused development agency, World Vision is committed to uplifting children living in poor and vulnerable conditions through various programs — not just in education. It also invests in health and nutrition, child protection, livelihood, and disaster risk reduction.

    Fuerte shares, “World Vision aims for every child to experience life in all its fullness. Our goal for education is to help children increase their learning outcomes by ensuring that they complete formal and non-formal learning programs and that community mechanisms effectively support their development.

    “For health and nutrition, we want to help children become well-nourished by providing households access to adequate nutritious food, and supporting improved child care, sanitation, and hygiene practices.”

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    Banker Melizza Guiao is one of those who responded to World Vision’s appeal. “I have always felt that I had more than enough, and this little amount that I can share with a child or two will certainly make a difference in their lives.” She has been sponsoring children through World Vision for about 18 years now.

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    Before she made a commitment, Guiao did her homework, and she was impressed by World Vision’s track record not only in the Philippines but also around the world. She remits her monthly donation via automatic debit of her credit card. Guiao saw child sponsorship like a sweet and binding love affair — it takes commitment, in good and bad times. “It’s something that you’re planting, a seed to improve somebody else’s life. When we start to improve our own lifestyle, let’s not just improve our standard of living, let’s improve on our standard of giving,” she shares.

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    One sponsor from the Visayas, who prefers to remain anonymous, has faithfully supported more than 200 children. One company, as part of their social action and employee engagement, committed to sponsoring at least 260 children. Celebrity ambassador Marc Nelson has been adding two children to sponsor every year, and he finds it a joy to share his blessings with another boy and girl who need the opportunity to live their dreams.

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    Fuerte says, “We have seen former sponsored children who have found their voice, pursued and lived their dreams as an engineer, teacher, scientist, an environmentalist, a social worker, a CNN hero, a sought-after artist, a tenor,  a lawyer, a violinist, a business executive, a captain of the Coast Guard, and the list would go on. All of them became positive products of child sponsorship where individuals were given the opportunity to make a difference for others — one child, one community at a time.”

    For every child who receives a sponsor, four more children in the same community benefit through its programs focused primarily on education, health, physical and spiritual nurture for children. This year, World Vision aims to sponsor 6,000 more children living in the poorest provinces and urban areas.

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    Make a difference by sponsoring Filipino children

    World Vision works alongside communities considered in the poorest of the poor areas. In consultation with various community stakeholders including the local government, children are identified based on their level of poverty, capacity to meet basic needs, vulnerability to hazards, and the willingness to be part of community development programs designed to improve the children’s well-being and the community at large.

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    “World Vision continues to make a difference in the lives of Filipino children through child-focused and community-based programs and advocacy initiatives. With the continued support of partners and donors, World Vision hopes to help more communities and children to live full and better lives,” said Fuerte.

    Share their vision for the world, one where children can enjoy education as their right, and can look forward to the future with hope.

    Becoming a child sponsor is now easy, as World Vision has refined the process through the years. It’s as simple as buying a cup of coffee or subscribing to a streaming service.

    You can visit the World Vision website at worldvision.org.ph for more information to sign up, or call +63 (917) 866-4824 to get started. “For only 750 a month per child, the help would go a long way to make a lasting change not just for the child but for his or her community as well,” explained Fuerte.

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    This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.

    * Minor edits have been made by the Realliving.com.ph editors.

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