Children's rights

The mother and the unborn child

Early years

Primary school years



Primary school years

© UNICEF Philippines/2008/Francia
Elementary schools students of Mindanao are in a cheerful mood during the arrival of UNICEF visitors.

Completing school is as important as going to school.


  • Close to 13 million children are aged 6-11 years old.
  • Participation rates in public elementary schools have decreased since 2000.
  • Out of 10 grade 1 students, only 7 will most likely reach grade 5. 

Of the approximately 13 million children of elementary school age, almost 11 million were enrolled in 2002. This translates to a net enrolment ratio of 90%. This is a sharp drop from the 2000 estimate of 97%.

Public education in the Philippines is free. Yet, the ability of schools to retain students has been poor. Out of 10 grade 1 students who were enrolled five years ago, only seven are now in grade 5. Worse, only 67% will eventually complete basic elementary education.

The quality of Philippine education has also been the subject of much debate in the past decades. The average class size across Philippine regions ranges from 33 to 50 students per class. In July 2003, 1.3 million grade 6 students took the High School Readiness Test. Using a passing mark of 50% (proportion of questions answered correctly), only 18% of the incoming high school students who took the diagnostic test passed the competency level for English; 8% passed Math and 10% passed Science. These test results did not bode well with the government. Hence, a Bridge Program for these students was recommended.

The Bridge Program is a one-year remedial program for first year high school students (12-13 years old). It focuses on improving three subject areas – English, Mathematics and Science – and is intended for students who do not meet the cut-off score in the High School Readiness Test.





Relevant statistics

Net enrolment ratio
Male 91%
Female 93% 

Survival rate to last primary grade 
Total 70%
State of the World’s Children Report
UNICEF, 2009


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