In this journal, I have discussed the relationship between education, poverty alleviation, and economic development. The link is critical and the three are self-reinforcing. Education creates greater opportunities for the youth, who go on to work decent jobs in cities like Bacolod, Manila, and Cebu. The children remit money back to the parents, who spend on home improvements and the tuition fees for the younger siblings. College-educated individuals are much less likely to end up impoverished (about 1 in 44). Trade schools also create opportunities, with only one in 10 people with post-secondary degrees living below the poverty line. Unfortunately, the ratios drop precipitously after that. One in three high school graduates and half of elementary school grads are impoverished. Here are the sobering education statistics: Continue reading
I spent the last three days in “the field,” a term used to describe the front lines of microfinance where the money is distributed to the clients of the banks. Beginning early Tuesday morning, I set out for the town of Valladolid, a rural municipality about 50 km from Bacolod City. The road snakes along the coast through increasingly less urban communities, until reaching Pontevedra, where the NWTF (Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation) Valladolid branch is located. Linda, the branch manager and former loan officer, took me to see the first of 15 borrowers we would try to track down over the course of the three-day trip (with a 67% success rate). Riding in the metal grates on the back of a tricycle, where I’d spend most of my trip, we rode to small village called a barangay to interview several women about their business and loan. The community here is small, and stopping for directions usually produced a guide that brought us directly to the home of the borrower. Home constructions vary from 2-3 room bamboo nipa huts, to shanties with roofs of corrugated aluminum and floors of dirt, to cement frames with electricity, running water, and decorations on the walls. Over the course of the week, I’d see all types represented. Housing loans are popular among borrowers, and many homes have been built with loans from NWTF.