Save the Children has worked for underserved children in the Philippines for 26 years. From its initial program in West Visayas, which began in 1982, the Philippines Country Office has expanded and now implements child-focused education, health and emergency preparedness and response programs in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the archipelago’s three major island groups. Save the Children has a special focus of helping children made vulnerable by endemic poverty, natural disasters or by armed conflict. Programs are marked by the active involvement of families and communities, so that progress made for children can be sustained.
Challenges for Children
Access to and quality of basic services in education and health are major challenges for children in the Philippines. With eight of 10 children unable to access early childhood services, many Filipino first-graders enter school without the skills they need to learn. In Metro Manila, overcrowded schools result in teachers holding classes in two or three shifts a day. In contrast, rural schools have fewer students but suffer from a lack of basic resources, such as books, teaching supplies, or even teachers. The public education system’s inability to catch up with rapid growth in the student population has led to a serious decline in the quality of instruction and student achievement. An alarming number of very young children in the Philippines have iron deficiency anemia. Among older children, this is compounded by soil-transmitted parasitic worms that cause malnutrition and diseases – a result of poor sanitation and hygiene. In Mindanao, children and their families are vulnerable to the effects of sporadic conflict between various armed groups and the Philippine military.