Bring the kids to school and retain them. Following the opening of public schools in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian made this call to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to address enrollment woes in the region.
In a Senate hearing on the preparedness of basic education schools, Gatchalian pointed to the low participation rates in BARMM, which are also lower than the nationwide averages.
For instance, during the School Year (SY) 2020-2021, the participation rate in kindergarten stood at 53%, notably lower than the nationwide average of 66%. Similarly, in elementary education, the regional participation rate was 69% as opposed to 89% nationwide. The participation rates in junior and senior high school further plummeted to 37% and 13%, respectively. In contrast, the nationwide participation rates for junior and senior high school during SY 2020-2021 were considerably higher at 81% and 49%, respectively.
Gatchalian also pointed to the average low cohort survival rate in BARMM. For every 100 learners in the region who enter Grade 1, only 17 graduates from Grade 12. For every 100 learners nationwide who enter Grade 1, only 51 graduates from senior high school.
“I believe that the first order of business in BARMM is to promote schooling and the second order is to retain learners in school. During my discussions with BARMM governors, it became apparent that many children in the region drop out of school to help out in their families’ farms. They’re forced to work at an early age because of poverty. But, of course, in the long run, the situation may not be conducive to their long-term well-being,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Gatchalian has previously pushed for an enhanced back-to-school program to increase enrollment in the region. He also sought to strengthen the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the region to enhance the skills and abilities of the current working population, as well as out-of-school children and youth.