“OF THE 464,771 4Ps children-beneficiaries being monitored by DSWD in the region, 62,798 are not attending school.”
Shocking, to say the least, is the revelation of Department of Social Welfare and Development 4Ps regional program coordinator Tomasa Lirio, as reported here last week by Ding Cervantes.
For one, attendance in school is a prerequisite for indigent families to continue receiving cash in varying amounts monthly under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The greater shock is in the number of these out-of-school kids, presumably in the elementary and junior high age brackets, out there in the open. Maybe eking out what passes for some income-generating activity to help out their parents, open to all sorts of predations.
So, the DSWD is studying whether to disqualify them, unless the parents vow to let their children pursue schooling in the new school year, Lirio said. “We also conduct regular assessment to identify availability of supply side which are contributory to the compliance of these children. Gaps are then lobbied to the local, provincial and regional committees.”
The DSWD launched the Bata Balik-Eskwela Campaign in time for the opening of classes “to initiate collective efforts in encouraging schoolaged children to attend school.”
No mere encouragement, make it an imperative for parents – under pain of penalties, suspending 4Ps dole-out just the least – to keep their children in school. Indeed, there have been some proposed legislation on the matter. Like this one discussed in a Zona pieces dated May 16, 2008 titled Irresponsible parenthood:
“ALL SCHOOL-AGED children in basic education must be in school.”
Thus declared Education Secretary Jesli Lapus in support of a bill filed in the House by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez that sanctions jail terms and/or fines to parents who fail to send their children to school or to provide them with an education.
Poverty, Rodriguez pointed out in his explanatory notes, should never be a hindrance to education since parents can enroll their children in public schools which provide free education.
Lapus even went further to say that poverty should even be a motivating factor for parents to send their children to school.
“Education is life’s great equalizer. It is also the number one anti-poverty measure we can have,” the education secretary was quoted as saying.
As “knowledge is power,” so “education is the greatest gift parents can give their children.” It is a life-long treasure that cannot be stolen, that will not perish.
In the rural communities, cursed is the home that did not have a wall – even if only of the lowly sawali – serving as shrine to education where displayed the diplomas, medals and citations of the children.
Premium is indeed put on education as sure-way to get out of poverty. The sagas of Diosdado Macapagal and Oscar Rodriguez are testaments to that.
Parenthood is measured not simply in the number of children sired, but in those reared and educated to be useful citizens.
Failing there thus is the pits of parental irresponsibility. So well discoursed by the philosopher John Stuart Mill in his essay On Liberty: “To bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide food for its body, but instruction or training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate off spring and against society.”
A moral crime indeed! Your children did not ask you to be brought out into this world. You did it – with pleasure, to boot!
Now you rear them until such time they can go on their own. That is your obligation not only to your God but to society as well.
But where stands the traditional bastion of morality here?
No to all forms of artificial contraception. Yes to tuition hikes in its exclusive institutions. And the population-education-poverty problem gets on a full cycle, nay, on a spiral: the poor getting more babies, the population mired in ignorance with quality education beyond, poverty a-breeding.
There has to be a stop somewhere. And penalizing parents for abandoning their moral responsibility makes one good start.
Most proper and just then for the state to act.
Thus, per Rodriguez’s bill, failure to send children to school will mean imprisonment of six years or a penalty of not more than P100,000.
Abandonment of children translates to six months to two years and a penalty of P100,000.
All sectors of society are bound to support Rodriguez’s bill. To save the children. To save society itself.
WONDER WHATEVER happened to that bill.