More poor children attend school with gov’t cash doleout—research
MANILA, Philippines—While its effectiveness continues to be doubted, the government’s big-budgeted cash doleout and subsidy to indigent families, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), has actually spurred students to attend classes in some towns and cities, according to a research by a state think tank.
Comparing enrollment data before and after the social policy program was implemented, economist Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) observed a marked improvement in school attendance in some towns and cities.
Manasan gathered data from 340,000 indigent families in 160 municipalities and cities in the 20 poorest provinces, where the program’s first expansion phase was implemented in March-December 2008, covering the pre-implementation period 2004-2007 and first years of implementation, 2008-2010.
In areas outside of Metro Manila and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Manasan observed that the number of students in public elementary schools grew by 0.6 percent in 2004-2007, and by 3.5 percent in 2008-2010.
The growth rate of the number of students, therefore, was higher in the latter period when the 4Ps was implemented.
In public high schools, the number of students in 2004-2007 dropped by -0.5 percent, while this grew by 3.2 percent in 2008-2010.
Manasan, however, noted that enrollment in high schools in areas outside the metropolis and ARMM appeared to be “muted” compared with that in elementary schools.
In areas within the ARMM, enrollment in the elementary level appeared to have increased by 19 percent in 2010, two years after the program came online, while enrollment in the secondary level “grew faster’’ in 2010, Manasan said.
The impact on enrollment was “more distinct and felt” in the elementary level than the secondary level, she said.
Manasan said the approach used in her study may not have the “rigor of more sophisticated impact evaluation techniques,” but this still provided important insights about the program.
This year, the government has allotted P18.3 billion for the poverty-alleviation program, introduced by the Arroyo administration in 2008 and expanded by the Aquino administration, in a bid to reach 3 million households by yearend.
Some sectors saw the 4Ps as a doleout program promoting mendicancy, and questioned the government’s huge allocations for the program to the purported detriment of other sectors.
The program seeks to alleviate the plight of the poorest households and at the same time encourages them to invest in education and health by granting cash on certain conditions like regular attendance of children in school, and regular checkups by the mothers.
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