Cordillera Administrative Region –Simultaneous to the start of classes, the Department of So-cial Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd) here kicked-off the Bata Balik Eskwela (BBE) campaign as part of its efforts to ensure that children beneficiaries are sent back to school and maintain their attendance in class.

The BBE with tagline Edukasyon ay Mahalaga, Ito ay Ating Ipaalala aims to encourage the children beneficiaries to enroll back to school and teach them the value of education. The campaign also aims to address the number of Pantawid Pamilya children beneficiaries identi-fied as not attending school (NAS).

“The BBE campaign is interfaced with the DepEd’s Oplan Balik Eskwela with similar purpose to ensure the attendance of students to school. This initiative will instill to the children benefi-ciaries the importance of education and for them to fully utilize the program’s benefits,” DSWD-CAR Regional Director Janet Armas said.

“This is just the kick-off activity for the BBE campaign. As preliminary activities, the program already rolled-out several activities for the campaign before the start of classes such that of guesting to local radio stations where we discussed the BBE. Many activities are lined-up for the campaign. Our field staff will conduct case management and monitoring for those student beneficiaries who did not enroll for this school year. We shall be conducting focus group dis-cussions for both parents and children, if necessary.”,Pantawid Pamilya Program Coordinator Fatima Florendo said.

The DSWD monitored about 55 elementary and high schools in the region identified with most number of NAS or dropouts during the weeklong school visit. The identified top reasons for children not attending school were validated that includes working children, loss of interest, parents’ decision, early pregnancy, distance of school, among others. During the visit, DSWD found out that some of the listed dropout children enrolled back to school as regular students or through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program.

“Our 90% population of Pantawid Pamilya student beneficiaries here are so far compliant in terms of attendance. Majority of them are present during the first day of classes. However, we have one case of drop out but we talked to the student and he manifested to enroll in our ALS class. Another pressing problem of our students here is the distance of school to their homes, and we have student beneficiaries who are non-readers but we provided intervention like summer classes and one-on-one coaching because we can see their interest. We also con-duct home visit and dialogue with their parents about some issues on their needs to school”,Fleurdeliza Balinte, Pantawid Pamilya focal person and Guidance Counselor of Limos National High School in Pinukpuk, Kalinga said.

“Our DSWD staff at the provincial and municipal offices will continue to monitor the attendance of our student beneficiaries through school and home visits throughout the school year. We are also working closely with our partner agencies to provide interventions to the needs of these children. We are hopeful that through these initiatives, our children beneficiaries will be motivated and will appreciate the value of education”, Dir. Armas added.

The Pantawid Pamilya provides conditional cash grants to poor families investing in health, nutrition, and education of children aged 0-18. It provides P500.00 to compliant family on health conditionalities while another P300.00 for every child who maintains 85% of their at-tendance in pre-school and elementary, and P500.00 per child wh in high school. A maximum of three (3) selected children from the household-beneficiary is being monitored for education.

As of March 2019, the DSWD CAR has recorded 11,125 NAS children, which is about 9% of the total 116,389 children beneficiaries being monitored for education compliance. ### Marlo C. Abyado, Jr., Pantawid Pamilya, Information OfficerII

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