Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano believes that it is possible to effectively reduce the number of school dropouts throughout the country by giving educators the means to support students with learning disabilities.
Cayetano, in a radio interview in Cebu City on Thursday, stressed that students who drop out of elementary and high school usually have special needs early on that were not given proper attention.
“The reality is, many out of school youths dropped out because they had learning disabilities. They had no access to support systems in their school. It’s very possible that their own parents, perhaps due to poverty, also had no ability to support them,” she said.
A 2018 study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed that undiagnosed learning disabilities are among the most common causes of risk for dropping out among Grades 1-6 students.
“These children simply could not cope with the pressure. So we need to identify and assist these kids before they drop out. We need schools, especially during the first three grades, to have assistant teachers who can give additional attention to them,” Cayetano noted.
The congresswoman said she plans to discuss with the Department of Education a proposal to establish volunteer programs for parents who are willing to assist teachers in responding to specific needs of students in the classrooms.
Cayetano also called on Sangguniang Kabataan leaders in the country to help encourage out-of-school youths to return to school by taking advantage of programs available to them, such as Alternative Learning Systems or ALS.
“Let’s find a way for them to excel and then bring them back in alternative learning systems,” she added, while citing the Open High School Program, a system of education that uses multimedia technologies and flexible class schedules to allow students to continue their studies beyond the conventional classroom setup.
The author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10665 or the Open High School System Act, Cayetano vowed to push for the law’s proper implementation by ensuring that every school district in the country offers ALS programs for high school students. #