A 2010 government survey released that the Philippines had some 6.24 million out-of-school youth (OSY) alone in that year.

The report, which was conducted out of the estimated 39 million Filipinos whose ages range from 6 to 24 years old, cited that they stopped studying due to poverty, high cost of education, lack of personal interest to go to school, and the desire to work. In some parts of the country, armed conflicts hampered the youth’s education. In fact, based on the report, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) continues to have the highest number of OSY Filipinos at 23.6 percent or almost 404,000 of the population.

Though the government fears the alarming increase in the number of OSY in the country, news these recent years about parents and grandparents, and even children in armed conflict areas, going back to school and finishing their education gained a widespread inspiration that when it comes to attaining education, it is always possible.

THE WILL TO GRADUATE

Maribele Gracela (26) grew up in Bulacan. She has three daughters and her husband works as a driver. According to her, she did not receive any proper education when she was young because her mother did not support her. She cannot read and write many words. Now that she has her own family and even if they are poor, she wants to finish her schooling because for her, education is really important. She and her daughter even became classmates.

Lolo Pompeyo Requinta Sr. (79), a certified public accountant, recently graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Law at University of Nueva Caceres. He said that it was his dream to become a lawyer someday because it can help him in his profession as an accountant. Even though studying law is a tough nut to crack, he pushed through. Lolo Pompeyo is also an inspiration to Jessie Savilla, his 58 year old law classmate. Pompeyo dedicated his diploma to his beloved wife who passed away before his graduation. He will take up the bar exams this coming November.

Lola Adora Isaiyas (82) became an instant celebrity in her Davao Occidental hometown after finishing high school this year. She wanted to finish school during her younger days but her father became ill. She wants to purse a culinary arts course.

Elvira Constantino, a Tala Caloocan High School alumna, cried tears of joy when she marched her way up the stage and received her high school diploma. Elvira said that she was so happy because she managed to finish high school even if she’s already 44 years old.

Gerald and Arlene Verzosa, a husband and wife, also graduated from high school. They even carried their 8 month old baby to the graduation rite.

Ruffa Abane who is about to give birth to her baby also attended the event to get her diploma. Ruffa said that she needs to pursue her education not just for her but for her baby. She believes that becoming a graduate, she can have better opportunities at work.

The Rappler site also reported Shaine Jane Hugo, a daughter of a farmer, who only had 3 notebooks and a ballpen when she enrolled but finished on top of her class. Hugo said that she experienced bullying at school and had a series of family problems. But these difficult moments did not prevent her from fulfilling her dream.

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CHOOSING THE BETTER THING

It has been said a thousand times that it is never too late to finish school. Poverty, high cost of education and even armed conflicts cannot be a reason to a person who is determined to finished school. Gracela, Lolo Pompeyo, Lola Adora, Mommy Elvira, Gerald and Arlene, Ruffa and Shane, they come from different walks of life and they believe that education does matter. If they can do, so can the others.

There are plenty of opportunities to gain financial aid and scholarships. The Philippine government is also offering an Alternative Learning System and online school for those who want to pursue an education. The choice then is up to the person.

DISCLAIMER: SLIDESHOW PHOTOS ARE NOT MINE. THEY ARE GRABBED AT NEWS SITES AND VIDEO SITES.

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