DepEd: Dropouts start at 1st grade

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

DAVAO CITY - The Department of Education (DepEd) in Davao Region said it will thresh out means to stop students in elementary and secondary schools from dropping out.

DepEd-Davao Region Regional Director Susana Teresa Estigoy said she has arranged a meeting with the education division supervisors in the region to discuss how to strengthen their efforts to eliminate dropouts.

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"Although the drop out rate in elementary is less than one percent it's still not enough. While looking at what grade level children are dropping out, we saw that this is from Grade 1 to Grade 3, which is very early," Estigoy said.

Of greater concern is the high drop out rate for high school students, she said.

"Soon we will be assessing why each of the student dropped out and we will go to the extent of finding out where these students are now. We are willing to give intervention programs just so they can stay in school," she added.

"We will review what are the reasons why the students are dropping out. We will continue to strengthen our implementation of the Drop Out Reduction Program (Dorp)," Estigoy said through phone interview.

Dorp was designed to address the problems faced by students, which prevent them from completing their elementary and high school education. Many students cannot report to class regularly because of various reasons such as work, financial problems physical handicap, family and health issues, among others.

Estigoy said in school year 2009-2010, the region showed a participation rate in primary elementary school of 72.86 percent, a completion rate of 58.02 percent, and a drop out rate of 0.48 percent. For the secondary education, under the same school year, the region had a participation rate of 38.64 percent, a completion rate of 52.24 percent, and a drop out rate of 6.23 percent.

Asked how DepEd-Davao Region's rate of dropouts compare to other regions, Estigoy said she cannot tell as these data are immediately sent to the central office of DepEd. "But still I don't really see this in that kind of perspective (on knowing how the region ranked). I just focus on lowering the drop out rate because that's our priority," she said.


Meanwhile, at least four provinces in the country showed an unprecedented zero drop out rate from first year to fourth year high school.

The four provinces, which reported a zero drop out are Zamboanga Sibugay, Cotabato, Southern Leyte and Romblon. Masbate, for its part, has recorded a drop out rate of 0.95 percent in its five national high schools.

DepEd attributed this to their intensified efforts to address the occurrence of children dropping out of school. DepEd also expects more "good news will come" as they are still collating data in other provinces.

In a statement, the education department said the achievement was made through DepEd's Dorp, which uses various approaches to significantly reduce if not totally eradicate the problem of dropouts.

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said Dorp is a valuable tool for the Philippines to enable it to meet the United Nations goal of Education for All (EFA) by 2015. "We have experienced remarkable success in reducing the drop out rate in many high schools because of our effective intervention programs through Dorp," she said.

Valisno stressed that DepEd has to work extra hard to be able to reach and bring back to school some 5 million more school-aged children who are out of school and not only the dropouts.

DepEd's target is to cut drop out rate in Philippine public schools to 7.13 percent for school year 2009-2010.

This is far lower than the national drop out rate of 12.51 percent when Dorp started in 2005-2006. The 2010 target reflects a consistent decline from the 8.35 percent drop out in school year 2006-2007 and 7.45 percent in 2007-2008.


DepEd's Bureau of Secondary Education director Lolita Andrada said Dorp has several programs that rescue students at risk of dropping out (Sardo), from discontinuing their schooling and being considered a school failure.

"We have to come up with innovative measures to bring back to school those in the brink of dropping out and those students in difficult circumstances," Andrada said.

The Open High School Program (OHSP) is a distance education program that allows working students or previously out-of-school youth (OSY) to continue studying using a specialized module.

The Effective Alternative Secondary Education (Ease) provides an innovative learning tool that allows students to pursue lessons outside school using modules. Some children may have to be temporarily absent from class because of justifiable reasons such as natural calamity or an illness.

The Schools Initiated Interventions (SII) is the most effective help for Sardo's since the school itself fits the kind of help a student needs according to his unique circumstances. The SII has enabled schools to determine, based on interview, specific problems of students or the real causes for dropping out.

"We assess the problem of students based on the result of FICS- Family, Individual, Community, or School assessment. Not all those who are dropping out are poor students. Rich students may also be vulnerable," said DepEd education program specialist and Dorp coordinator Prudencia Martinez-Sanoy.

Through this, some schools found out that certain students were undergoing difficult situation such as going through pregnancy or experiencing abuse from family members, Sangoy said.

A total of 1,176 public high schools now have Dorp. This number represents 17.68 percent out of the total of 6,650 high schools nationwide.

The schools in Zamboanga Sibugay that posted a zero drop out rate include national high schools (NHS) in Balangao, Guinoman, Imelda, Kasigpitan, Nanan, Symbol, and Talusan.

In Cotabato, the zero drop out schools are the NHS in Badiogan, Nabalawag, Pikit, and Matalam. In Southern Leyte, these are the NHS in Esperanza, Libas, Nava, Ichon, and Esleta. In Romblon, these are the NHS in Agnipa, Ferrol, Sta. Fe, Concuera, and San Jose. For four consecutive school years now, other Romblon high schools were of Tanagan, Cambalo, Mayha, and Esteban Madrona. Ferrol have been posting zero drop out rate while the high schools of Agnipa and Sta. Fe has gained zero drop out record over the last three school years.

The division of Masbate also recorded a very low drop out rate of only 0.95 percent particularly in the high schools of Dimasalang, Feliciano Samonte, Puro, Iniwaran Integrated, and Liong.

High schools that recorded a less than one percent drop out rate in Zamboanga Sibugay were NHS in Olutanga, Pantaleon Cordiera, Pioneer, San Antonio, and Basalem.

"Because of the success of Dorp in high school, public elementary schools are initiating their own program for pupils at risk of dropping out (Pardo)," Sanoy said.

Dr. Violeta Alocilja, Southern Leyte schools district superintendent, said that the School-Based Management (SBM) practice of empowering the school heads has given them more options to address the problem of students dropping out of school. "For instance, we believe that the SII is more effective for us in addressing drop out rates among elementary students," Alocilja explained.

As proof of this, in Benguet Division, elementary schools in 14 districts are already "dorping".

Dorp was first tried out under the Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project implemented in 2000-2006, which was co-financed by the Asian Development Bank. (Jade C. Zaldivar of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Deped dropouts start 1st grade

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