Real Talk

Save the Children: How to Show Your Support This International Day of Education

Save the Children Philippines aims to provide learning opportunities to all children in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Education is a fundamental right that everyone deserves. Not only is this crucial for a person’s personal development, but it also paves the way for societal progress and economic prosperity in the form of building values for your children, giving them job opportunities, and teaching them how to take active action in the country’s affairs.

And yes, this right encompasses all children, regardless of background or social status. This strong drive for education is something that Save the Children Philippines—a non-government organization and the world’s leading independent children’s organization—emphasizes for all Filipinos.

This International Day of Education, the organization launched its “Learning for Lasting Peace” campaign, which zeroes in on the children in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Why? Poverty, early and forced marriage, and threats to their peace and order have affected student retention and dropout rates.

Learning morale is at an all-time low

When survival becomes more of a priority, education takes a backseat as basic needs take center focus. And the harsh reality is that this is the case for children in Mindanao.

“Most parents here cannot afford the cost of sending their children to school. Many of my students drop out or miss classes because they are forced to help their parents make ends meet,” explains Nur-in  Abdurajan, a teacher in one of Save the Children Philippines’ partner schools in Sulu.

In fact, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of September 2023, the BARMM Region had the biggest number of children unenrolled in school. This is due to the high cost of education at 23.2%.

“They can’t even afford to buy their own pens,” Abdurajan laments. 

Photo from Save the Children Philippines

Marriage as a way out

Other factors that hinder education include early or forced marriage—a common scenario among children and women in Mindanao. Save the Children even notes that marriage is seen as a way to alleviate their financial situation.

What’s more, children and the youth are uprooted by family feuds (called “rido”) and armed conflict in the region. And this has affected their school attendance. “Because of all of these, many students are discouraged from going to school and instead look for means to earn instead. They’d rather not study,” Abdurajan notes. 

How Save the Children can help children

With this prevalent problem at hand, Save the Children Philippines’ Project SiNDAO 2, Protecting Learning in Conflict and Complex Emergencies in Mindanao, helps by supporting Sulu partner schools. How? Through return-to-learning sessions and semi permanent learning facilities that seek to help affected learners.

As of writing, over over 8,000 conflict-affected children and boys in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and  Basilan benefitted from this EU Humanitarian Aid-funded project.

“Save the Children’s The Return to Learning module is really helpful to motivate children to learn in a fun environment,” explains Abdurajan. Through this module, children can catch up on their lessons, especially since the sessions are more focused on improving their reading and numerical skills and socio-emotional learning instead of following a strict timeline.

Photo from Save the Children Philippines

What’s more, children are given back-to-school kits with new backpacks, raincoats, and contextualized learning materials. 

“[The children] need all the help they can to overcome these problems,” declares Save the Children Philippines  BARMM Office Head Mykiel Patcho. He also emphasized on the importance of education in empowering children and promoting peace in the region. 

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Learn more about how you can help Save the Children by visiting their website at www.savethechildren.org.ph. You may also reach them at (+632) 8682-7283 (SAVE) or via fax at (+632) 8682-7283 local 300.

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