Extreme poverty is an ailment that continues to afflict the country. In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the subsistence incidence among Filipino families — that is, the proportion of families living in extreme poverty — was at 5.7 percent.
“This means that around 1.3 million Filipino families still can’t afford their basic needs,” explains Norman Jiao, executive director of the Association of Foundations (AF). AF is the education cluster lead for the Zero Extreme Poverty 2030 (ZEP2030).
In the face of extreme poverty, families often sacrifice the education of children, opting to put the little money that they have in more immediate needs. According to the 2016 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, almost 10 percent of the estimated 39 million Filipinos 6 to 24 years old were out-of-school children and youth (OSCY). The most common reasons among OSCYs for not attending school were marriage or family matters, high cost of education or financial concerns, and lack of personal interest.
ZEP2030 is a movement composed of non-government entities (NGE) seeking to end extreme poverty in the Philippines by 2030. It has organized into seven clusters, each one working in a specific area where extreme poverty may be addressed, namely health, education, environment, livelihood, agriculture and fisheries, housing and shelter, and partnerships for indigenous peoples (IP).
The education cluster focuses on communities where children and the youth have limited access to education, training, and employment opportunities.
“We envision a Philippines where children and the youth can complete their basic education through formal or informal delivery modes, leading to gainful employment or self-employment so that they can ultimately contribute to their family’s income. Every Filipino child deserves quality education — it is their ticket to a better future,” explains Jiao.
Currently, the cluster serves communities in Bukidnon, Sarangani, Lanao del Sur, Eastern Samar, among others. It has profiled more than 3,200 families in these areas, with the end of providing suitable programs.
“We use the Poverty Probability Index (PPI) and the Family and Community Visioning (FCV) module to determine the actual number of out-of-school children and youth as well as to better understand the situation of their families and communities, and how we can work together to address their needs,” says Jiao. Initial commitments of local stakeholders and ZEP2030 members and partners are secure and implementation of programs/projects have started based on the articulated aspirations of the families and the plans discussed by the communities.
“While it is too early to see the improvements brought about by the interventions under ZEP2030, it brings us great joy to see families, communities, and the children seize the opportunity to actively participate in the development process,” says Jiao. “The visioning exercises revealed that most children from impoverished families have the desire — and if given the chance, the perseverance — to go to school. They believe education is their way out of poverty.”
With the gaps and the needs of the pilot communities identified, Jiao hopes to engage more members and partners for the education cluster.
“With more partners, we would be able to provide the appropriate program interventions to the beneficiary communities, particularly to their out-of-school children and youth,” he says.
Built on the spirit of collaboration to bring inclusive prosperity and development to communities, ZEP2030’s interventions are guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, creating collective impact to lift families from extreme poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.