Gender Achievements and Prospects in Education: The Gap Report | Part OneStephan KlasenBarry ChevannesRima SalahCream WrightAngélique KidjoMarivic Javierto

Marivic Javierto
A Mother’s View

Marivic Javierto“If you educate a son, you educate a person. If you educate a daughter, you educate a family. And that is the only gift that we can offer to them as their parents – education.”

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Please describe your life today.

Marivic Javierto: Every Sunday, I attend our church activities in community works for children, in a youth centre called ‘Templo ng Katotohana’ in Filipino. It’s called ‘the temple of truth’ in English. I’m active with them and my family. Having concerts for the youth, exposing their talents in drawing, singing, dancing. When I was in Cavite, the place where we lived before, I put up school buildings because I was elected as an overall PTA. Some projects, by asking donations from provincial governors, put up some sports, for example, basketball games, fiestas, community programmes for the youth and for the housewives. I do some solicitation for donations for the orphanages.

Do you believe in education for both sons and daughters?

MJ: My answer is yes. Because we love them both. If you educate a son, you educate a person. If you educate a daughter, you educate a family. And that is the only gift that we can offer to them as their parents – education. And the only knowledge that God gives us. Education is learning to develop mentally and morally.

What are the reasons parents don’t send their children to school?

MJ: Actually other parents think that their sons should be the ones to do the school. He will be the future breadwinner, because the daughters will just depend on their husbands. But for us, a daughter should be given equal priority. Our country is facing economic crisis. Both husband and wife need to help one another for the needs of the children.

What do you like about your children’s primary school?

MJ: One, there are no tuition fees, because my children are studying in public school. Especially because they are in elementary school, teachers always coordinate with the parents. They share if our children have problems regarding their status in class as well as their attitude. They’re exposed to school projects and activities, for example, jewelry, singing, drama, tree planting and vegetables, doing some handicrafts, practical arts and community services. Especially knowing God better.

What would you like to see improved about their schools?

MJ: One thing, the school here is too small to accommodate the number of students who want to be enrolled. So they need additional school buildings, school facilities, especially different comfort rooms [toilets] for boys and girls.

How do you participate in your children’s education?

MJ: Actually I am attending the parent teacher association meetings. I was elected as the president of school organizations. We always ask the teacher what are the needs of the students. We give donations to buy some of the needs of children, especially electric fans, water jugs, glasses, cleaning materials, curtains.

Is there potable water in the school?

MJ: We need to buy mineral water here, because some of the lines are not good. We need the jugs to make sure the water is clean.

If you had an opportunity to speak to President Gloria Arroyo, what would you say?

MJ: I would like her to increase the Government budget for education. To provide more facilities for the school needs, such as books, additional buildings for the children, to hire competent teachers for public schools, to provide safety for our children by providing police visibility in every school. To look after the criminal element around schools.

The number one problem is the kidnapping of the primary students. Because they need to be in school around 5:30 in the morning because the class starts around 5:40.

I’d like to ask some follow-up questions about parents who keep their children away from school.

MJ: One of the problems here in the Philippines is lack of financial support of the parents, because actually we are facing an economic crisis here in the Philippines right now. Some parents, especially the fathers, are still searching for the job, but there is no job available for them. If you are just a graduate from some college or you have a high degree, you have the chance of being a part of the company. But if you’re not educated, you belong to those people who can’t even afford to buy food for their families.

Even though primary school is free, when parents don’t have money they are unable to send their children to school?

MJ: That’s right. Kids need uniforms. Even the classmate of my son was asking for a uniform. The only thing I can do is to give what I can give to him. Sometimes he eats here in my house because they don’t have enough food even for his younger brother. I was really touched when I saw those people looking for food.

Do they provide lunch in the school?

MJ: No, the children are the ones who are bringing food for them. My son brings food for [his friend]. There’s not enough food for his health. If the Government or someone provided a free lunch at school, I would be so thankful for it – for the help for the children.

Could you say more about the crime around schools?

MJ: Some of the youth are involved because they need money, because their fathers have no job. Some adults, they kidnap children, but they don’t know that the children also belong to the depressed area. They think the kid belongs to a rich parent and that the parents will pay money. We worry about the children when they go out. Too much worrying.