The Philippine government just released its report on school attendance for 2006-2007, revealing that 17% of primary-school-aged children -- which is to say 2.2 million of them -- are not in school.
In 1999-2000, before current President Arroyo, the corresponding number was 3%.
Numbers have plummeted under Arroyo, as has real per-capita spending on education, making the Philippines one of the lowest spenders in the world.
Unfortunately, the numbers are likely to be even worse for the current year, as the economic situation worsens. Public education is not free here -- families are responsible for school fees, uniforms and school supplies -- and registration season corresponded with the height of the rice crisis, forcing many families to choose between feeding their children or putting them in school.
Here,* school teachers in Carupay, Zamboanga del Norte, explain the situation in their own school, and the difficulties facing even children whose families manage to pay the fees.
President Arroyo, putting her Phd in economics to good use, recently conceded that the rising costs of food and energy may be keeping kids out of school.
Her solution? Asking schools not to require uniforms.
Read this great (as usual) PCIJ piece for links to the report and more information...
*some technical issues in the middle due to software problems. I'll correct them if I can solve the original issue...