Every child is entitled to education and yet the survey conducted in 2016 by the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that one out of every ten Filipinos aged between 6 and 24 years is an out-of-school child. If the government gives priority to the value of education in the country why is such opportunity still being deprived to many? The existence of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as a government program for financial assistance to alleviate poor living condition in the country has brought hope to the marginalized community to at least afford basic education.
Though the number of out-of-school youth (OTY) seemed to decrease in 2017 with only 3.6 million out of 3.8 million out-of-school youth not receiving formal education, it is still considered a large number despite the fact that 4Ps encouraged out-of-school youth to enroll for school. The top three contributing factors on weak performance of 4Ps, according to a survey conducted in 2016 by the Philippine Statistics Authority, are the following: marriage or family matters (42.3%); followed by financial concerns (20.0%); and lastly, lack of personal interest (19.7%). This posts an alarming sign of diminishing output from the government given that education is essential to the growth of oneself and preparation to one’s life and future.
With the situation mentioned above, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) provision for education is not fully realized because of its inadequate implementing guidelines. However, this can be resolved by improving provision conditions such as its guidelines and conducting regular review on budget distribution and recipient’s standing.
The funding for the 4Ps is costly for billions of pesos is being allocated to make this government project happen. Development scholars and analyst proven that over the short term period, the conditional cash transaction programs could show signs of better school-enrollment ratios. And further shown in 2011 with before-and-after comparison of growth rate of enrollment through the use of statistical data highlighting the average growth rate in public school enrollment in 4Ps from the Basic Education Information System made by Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Though it displays favorable effects, the long term repercussion has to be taken into account especially when huge government budget is misallocated resulting to shortage of funds. Hence, it threatens the sustainability of the program. Year 2010 revealed that some parents were already irresponsible with the first cash grant given. They were caught gambling by the city link. ATM cards which gave them access to special Conditional Cash Transfers accounts at the Land Bank were reportedly confiscated due to wrong usage (De Los Reyes, 2011).
The 4P’s has also stated that in order to ensure proper implementation in accordance with the set policies and procedures, there would be a monitoring and evaluation system (DSWD, 2009). Up to this day, there still insufficient proof to claim that there is rigorous monitoring on the beneficiaries of the 4P’s. With monitoring and evaluation of the beneficiaries, the DSWD will be able to assess if the program needs improvements or changes.
The first proposed solution to resolve the inadequate implementing guidelines of 4P’s provision for education is to pattern it with the guidelines of Bolsa Familia which is a Brazilian CCT program that the 4P’s was styled after. The 4P’s which has currently supported over 4 million families since its inception in 2008, whilst Bolsa Familia has supported over 13.5 million families since its inception in 2003. (Caixa, 2018). The guidelines of the program do not vary too much but in the small differences lie the reason in why Bolsa Familia has done better than 4P’s. Instead of using an automated system to find beneficiaries, Bolsa Familia sought the large amounts of advertising and this did hit its mark as families put themselves into the program rather than get selected via faulty program that can confuse someone in poverty for someone who is not. Another reason as to why Bolsa Familia has more beneficiaries is that the amount of money they provide monthly is larger compared to what 4P’s grants can provide, as the total for their grants are 1400 pesos monthly whereas Bolsa Familia’s variable grant can provide a maximum of 201 real monthly, which is about 2920 pesos. In order to ensure transparency regarding the beneficiary’s funding, the names of the beneficiaries and the amount that they are receiving are publicly viewable at their own transparency website. Had 4P’s mimicked Bolsa Familia more than they already have, then there would definitely be a positive impact through the number of beneficiaries increasing, as most families affected by poverty would be more informed and surely jump at every opportunity they could to gain as much money as possible ensuring that they do not experience starvation and severe illness.
To ensure that cash grants are distributed properly to those who are deserving, conducting regular review on budget distribution can be an effective solution to the inadequate implementing guidelines of 4Ps provision for education. Studies show that student performance is dependent on many factors such as learning facilities, classroom environment, social, economic and financial problems (Balacuit, 2017). Attaining quality academic performance and basic education contributes factors in implementing 4Ps hence academic performances can be the basis of cash allowance distribution to families. It is an effective way to strengthen the capacity of our country in distributing the resources to deserving student beneficiaries of 4Ps. The solution is to implement a categorized cash assistance bracket that is based on student’s performance in school which will determine the allowance that will be provided to their academic needs. Presently, fixed cash grant of 300 pesos per month are given with the condition of attending class at least 85% every month (Official Gazette, 2016). A reward based system will help identify the deserving student beneficiaries of 4Ps and also encourage students to excel academically. Regularly reviewing where the resources proceed, the enforcers will be able to track and evaluate students and pinpoint students who are deserving and those who are not in order to maximize the distribution of budget. To make this possible, enforcers will formulate a bracket system where the student’s academic excellence is categorized to which will determine the amount of cash they will receive for their efforts in school.
As the student beneficiaries receive the cash amount equivalent for their academic efforts, they will need to undergo a scheduled and thorough review of their economic standing before and after the program. Economic independence is one of the factors that should be considered on determining whether the program accomplished its goal of aiding the beneficiary since “attaining economic independence requires more education, planning, and interpersonal skills – precisely the areas in which low-income individuals are disadvantaged to begin with.” (Scilearn, 2016, p. 5). The government must carry an accurate and systematic approach in identifying if the recipient is eligible to the program to make certain that the funds is utilized appropriately. Additionally, after educational attainment, the program must secure an employment for the beneficiary despite high competition in the labor force to assure economic independence as today is a “knowledge-based economy” emphasized by (Scilearn, 2016, p. 5). The program can effectively prepare the student to stand in a competitive environment with high standards on employment in the form of teaching, training and application techniques that they can valuably extend to the student throughout the period required in the program. This in turn would not only provide the opportunity of education but even after they have completed the program thus sustaining the development achieved by the student.
In conclusion, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program inadequate implementing guidelines can be resolved by improving provision conditions such that it patterns itself to Bolsa Familia towards more successful programs, tracking and evaluating students, pinpointing those who are deserving and those who are not in order to maximize the distribution of budget, assessing factors affecting the living conditions of the household through a case-to-case basis to determine whether each beneficiary would still qualified or not for full utilization of the program, as well as ensuring employment to make use of the development of the student. If all these proposed solutions are to be realized, then there would be noticeable progress in the years to come. Education is an integral part on the beneficiaries’ development as parents “believe that investing in education is considered as the only ticket to break the cycle of poverty and to have their children a brighter future.” (Frufonga, 2016) This is truly an investment by the government on producing its future for sustainable development anchored by well-educated citizens.