Extreme poverty 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 (ZEP203 0).
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 nongovernment entities (NGEs) that aim to end extreme poverty in the Philippines by 2030. It has organized itself into seven clusters, each one working in a specific area where extreme poverty may be addressed: 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,” Jiao said.
Currently, the Education 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 and the Family and Community Visioning 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 secured, and implementation of programs and projects has 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,” Jiao said. “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,” he added.
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 said.
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.
ZEP2030 welcomes local partners and donors that can provide support for the implementation of poverty eradication programs. Organizations can also join any of the seven clusters or any of the programs implemented by ZEP.
“Each organization brings value into the partnership, not only in terms of funding and program interventions, but also in their capacity to mobilize and sustain the engagement of communities and other stakeholders,” Jiao said.
Currently, the Education cluster has around 30 active member organizations, which serve as local convenors and program implementers. These member organizations include the Assisi Development Foundation, Caritas Borongan, Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Del Monte Foundation, De La Salle University Science Foundation, Gerry Roxas Foundation, Jollibee Group Foundation, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and Sarangani Province Empowerment and Community Transformation Forum.
“The ZEP2030 coalition has started to make a difference by reaching out to over 10,000 families these past two years. Collectively, our programs and interventions have spanned 109 cities and municipalities in 33 provinces and 15 regions across the country. With our eyes set on 2030, we are pushing to grow our members to help more communities and families, including informal settlers, farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples,” Jiao said.
“We believe that, through large-scale collaboration and multiple partnerships at various levels, we can make zero extreme poverty a reality,” he added.