High school students in the Philippines are receiving free bicycles from their Department of Education (DepEd). DepEd has partnered with Bikes for the Philippines Foundation Inc. (BPFI) to deliver bicycles to needy high school students in remote, rural areas. As of now, 100 bicycles have been distributed to students of Baclayon National High School in Bohol. The DepEd is currently in the process of identifying the deserving student-beneficiaries for the second delivery of bicycles from the United States.
This “Bikes for Education” Program, under the umbrella program “Adopt a School”, is combatting dropout rates by providing students that live in distant rural areas with transportation to attend school regularly. Often, the lack of transportation in rural areas of great poverty is the reason that Filipino students have difficulty regularly attending schools. This results in high dropout rates in school. Uichico explains that “students may need to walk over three kilometers one way on rough back roads with no access to or ability to pay for public transportation. Some walk greater distances.” Additionally, many Filipino children are required by their families to complete chores before and after the 8-5 p.m. school day, leaving less time for homework and studying. The bicycles offer a way for children to have more time for school.
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In addition to providing bicycles, “Bikes for Education” includes training and education for students on road safety while encouraging environmental awareness. Uichico is glad “it [encourages] students to go to school regularly, while also [training] them on proper bike handling and maintenance.” Uichico and Education Secretary Armin Luistro has hopes to expand the program so that it includes more students in other areas and accommodates students of all ages.
BFPI President Joel Uichico founded the organization in 2010. He saw the need for better transportation for children as he watched schoolchildren walking for hours to get to their classes. After contacting several organizations and establishing partnerships under “Bikes for the World,” Uichico ordered BFPI’s first shipment of bicycles in 2011.
Additionally, the program helps the DepEd to engage the private sector by recruiting their financial aid in advancing education in public schools in the countryside and poor provinces.
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