Miss Universe Catriona Gray’s advocacy of providing free education to children from underprivileged families earned the praises of child rights groups in the country.
These groups highlighted Gray’s work at the slums of Tondo district in the city of Manila which she mentioned at the question and answer portion of the Miss Universe pageant on December 17.
The “work” she does in Tondo, she said, helped her see something positive in the faces of the children there amid the poverty.
“I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson,” the Filipino-Australian model said in the final round of the competition.
Last November, she made a song about them titled “We’re in this Together” and released its music video on YouTube.
After being crowned Miss Universe, this song reached the top 10 spot in the Viral 50 Philippines list in Spotify, a popular music streaming app.
Child’s rights groups praise Catriona Gray
Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns congratulated Gray on Facebook and praised her efforts and views of bringing hope to impoverished children.
“We cannot but agree that despite this, there’s still a silver lining. We see hope in the eyes of children and it gives us so much strength and courage to aspire and work for a better world where every child is respected and cared for,” the organization said.
Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns warmly congratulates Catriona Gray for bagging the Miss Universe 2018 crown….
It added how the current laws further endanger the lives of poor Filipino children, rather than protect them.
“This situation has been further aggravated by the ‘lack of child support’ primarily from the government who fails to do its mandate in upholding and protecting the rights of children and implements programs that place them in a very vulnerable situation and incomparable misery,” it said.
Furthermore, Salinlahi also offered to team up with her and work on the same goal of upholding the welfare of Filipino children.
“We believe that through our partnership we will be able to see the most genuine smiles from the Filipino children, our nation’s hope and treasure,” it said.
Child Rights Network Philippines and Save the Children Philippines said Gray has “the voice” to help Filipino children fulfill their dreams.
Congratulations, Catriona Gray! Your voice can help in making the dreams of Filipino children come to life. Mabuhay! 🇵🇭 #MissUniverse
Save the Children Philippines congratulates our very own Catriona Gray for winning Miss Universe 2018! Thank you for giving voice to poor and marginalized children who deserve a bright future.
Poverty and marriage as barriers to education
International group Educate a Child observed that the country boasts of the oldest educational institutions in Asia, but failed to provide free education to all.
“It is said that the Philippines was home to the first modern public schooling system, the oldest universities, colleges, and vocational schools in Asia, however free universal primary education is yet to be realized,” it said.
Poverty remains to be the main barrier to education in the country, followed by rural locations, infrastructure and conflict.
However, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Office, the main reason Filipinos do not attend school is marriage or family matters. This is followed by lack of personal interest and then high cost of education or financial concerns.
In the 2017 survey, PSA recorded nine percent of approximately 39.2 million Filipinos between the ages of six and 24 years old as out-of-school children and youth or OSCY.
The PSA defines OSCY as “family members 6 to 14 years old who are not attending formal school; and family members 15 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed, and have not finished college or post-secondary course.”
Majority of these individuals were also quite young or 83.1 percent in the bracket from 16 to 24 years old.