MANILA, Sept 21 (AFP) - One out of every three Filipinos aged between six and 24 has never been to school or has dropped out of the education system, according to a government survey released Wednesday.

Some 11.6 million Filipinos, or 34 percent of the country's six to 24 year-olds, quit school prematurely or never received any formal education.

One in five of these "stated that they cannot afford the high cost of education," the National Statistics Office 2003 survey found.

Enrolment levels were lowest in the poverty-stricken Muslim region of the south, where only about half of children and youth are in school or college.

Eighteen percent of children are not enrolled in primary school, a figure that rises to 40 percent for secondary school and 66 percent at college level.

The survey also found that one in 10 Filipinos aged
between 10 and 64 cannot read or write at all. Females have a higher literacy rate of 90.4 percent compared to males at 86.8 percent.

Two in 10 Filipinos are "functionally illiterate", or lack numerical skills and cannot perform addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.

Functional illiteracy is worst among the Filipino poor, where three in 10 cannot compute or lack numerical skills.

The Manila-based Asian Development Bank estimates that 41.7 percent of the Philippine population live on two dollars a day