CCT in ‘Mid-air’: When is graduation not desired?

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by Emy Perez

Earlier this month, in a municipality in Abra:

"When your son or daughter graduates from elementary or high school, how would you feel?" I asked parent-leaders of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and barangay captains who were gathered in a Focus Group Discussion. The resounding answer was, “Masaya! (We will be happy!)” for they see it as an accomplishment, the completion of a task.

Then, a follow- up question: “What about when you graduate from the Pantawid Program?”  In unison, they exclaimed, “Please extend the program, we have yet to cross (tawid) from the hard life”.

The Abreneans’ plea can be heard across the country, among beneficiaries of the Philippines’ Pantawid conditional cash transfer (CCT) program—even among those from the first set of beneficiaries who have been enrolled in the program since the start. Five years later, graduation is not an enticing option for the 4Ps beneficiaries.  For most, graduating them from the program means actually suspending them in mid-air, assuming they have been moving up to step out of the rut they were in five years ago. 

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