Why help through literacy?
Poverty in the Philippines
Widespread poverty greatly impacts the education of most Filipino children. Philippine government statistics in 2006 showed that 30% of all pupils aged six to twelve years are underweight and under height. According to a survey conducted in 2006, the national proportion of households suffering involuntary hunger was 19%, or some 3.3 million out of a total of 17.4 million households. This condition contributes to a drop-out rate of 25% before the completion of Grade 4 and 35% before the end of Grade 6. In addition, a total of 65% of pupils aged six to twelve are iodine deficient, while one pupil in every three suffers from iron deficiency anemia. Dental carries affect 87% of the children, causing 32% of absenteeism in Grade 1 due to mouth-related pain.
Education in the Philippines
According to a report in the year 2000, 4,569 Barangays or 10% of the total villages were without elementary schools. Bayan Muna, a vocal proponent of education reforms in the Philippines, contended in 2006 that “nationwide, the country is short of 18,624 classrooms and 2,318,943 desks and armchairs.” According to the country’s Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the average ratio is one teacher per 50 to 60 students in public elementary and high schools. There is an extreme shortage of textbooks as well, as evidenced by the unfulfilled need for 21.5 million textbooks in 2006 for 18 million grade-school and high-school students. A vast majority of schools use outdated text books and lack an on-site library on their campus. Teachers complain of very low salaries, typically P10, 000 (about $210), which is way below the poverty threshold of P15,230 set by the government. Several militant groups point out that all these factors prohibit Filipino children from achieving anything meaningful as students. The average Grade 6 pupil can only answer about 60% of his national Achievement Test questions correctly. Fourth-year high school students do not fare any better — their national average is just below 50%. Without proper educational resources, Filipinos, especially the poor, experience a great disadvantage to compete for jobs both domestically and abroad.