For the rural towns of Masbate and Camarines Norte, one of the biggest reasons why children stop going to school is the far distance it takes to get there. In contrast, distance is not be a problem for more urbanized cities like Quezon City but due to over-populated classrooms in public schools, children similarly become discouraged from attending. These are some of the challenges discussed by local government heads early this month during Synergeia’s local school board workshop that was co-funded by Synergeia and Unicef.
Ideally, the smaller the town, the better the participation rate. However, many children who reside in far-flung areas need to walk for many kilometers to get to the nearest school, according to Mayor Isabel Magbalon of Milagros, Masbate. The heavy rainfall season between October to November discourages them even further, more so if they have to cross a river along the way. “What we do is build schools in every barangay,” said Mayor Enrico Capinig of the Municipality of Aroroy, Masbate. “Pero ganun pa din, malayo talaga.”
In Quezon City, public elementary schools are far more accessible but the large population of students creates a serious congestion in classrooms. Building additional schools also proves difficult because of unavailability of space, according to Quezon City 5th District Councillor Aly Medalla.
The local leaders also discussed common problems confronting education such as child labor and poverty. In sharing best practices, they agreed that a concerted effort must be made by the local government and the community to bridge the gap not only in logistics but also in communication between stakeholders.
“We hope to make a difference for the future,” Puerto Princesa City Councilor Victor Oliveros said as he shared his plans in addressing the issues that prevent children from going to school.
Padre Garcia Vice Mayor Noel Cantos proudly related how all the barangay captains in his municipality committed their full support to his education program.
The close interaction between the local heads were presided by Synergeia president Dr. Nene Guevara, Cong. Sherwin Gatchalian and Synergeia Mentor Mayor Bambi Villarosa of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. Other LGU representatives from Masbate, Camarines Norte, Puerto Princessa City, Quezon City, Pasay City and Padre Garcia, Batangas engaged in their own discussions and workshop activities in an effort to improve the standard of education in their areas. The 2-day event was held on June 18-19 at Ateneo Professional Schools in Makati.