JD, national correspondant of the Philippines
Early childhood education is a period when children start to learn basic skills, social and emotional skills, develop their interests, and form a relationship between their parents, peers, and teachers. It is their foundation and groundwork for their future development.
“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.”, says UNESCO about the importance of early childhood education.
Hence, early care and education puts emphasis on the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of the child for a strong foundation of learning and well-being throughout life.
The Philippine Republic Act 8980: Early Childhood Care and Development Act
In the Philippines, the compulsory starting age of education (if applicable) ranges from 6-12 years old. The Philippine Republic Act 8980: Early Childhood Care and Development Act, is an act promulgating a comprehensive policy and a national system for Early Childhood Care and Development, providing funds therefore and for other purpose. Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) System refers to the full range of health, nutrition, early education and social services programs that provide for the basic holistic needs of young children from birth to age six, to promote their optimum growth and development.
These programs include:
- Center-based programs, such as the day care service established under Republic Act No. 6972, public and private pre-schools, kindergarten or school-based programs, community or church-based early childhood education programs initiated by non-government organizations or people’s organizations, workplace-related child care and education programs, child-minding centers, health centers and stations.
- Home-based programs, such as the neighborhood-based play groups, family day care programs, parent education and home visiting programs.
In-charge of supervision or coordination and Service Providers:
At the national level, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is the agency responsible for overall policy and program development, setting and promoting guidelines and standards, providing technical assistance to the local government units through the regional field offices, monitoring and evaluation. Included but are not limited to, day care workers, teachers, teacher-aides, rural health midwives, social workers, community health workers, barangay nutrition scholars, parent effectiveness volunteers, child development workers, and family daycare providers. The primary service provider in the public day-care system is the day care workers, most of whom are recruited from within the local community, since one of the requirements is that they live near the center. They are directly responsible for the care and education of the young children through the various center and home-based programs.
Republic Act No. 6972, the “Barangay (village) Level Total Protection of Children Act”, has a provision that requires all local government units to establish a day-care center in every village; the law institutionalized the features of the day-care program that provide for young children’s learning needs aside from their health and psychosocial needs.
- Barangay – the smallest administrative division and is the native Filipino term for a village.
The implementation of the National ECCD System shall be the joint responsibility of the national government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, and private organizations that are accredited to deliver the services or to provide training and technical assistance.
Role of the National Government in the Implementation of ECCD
National government agencies shall be responsible for developing policies and programs, providing technical assistance and support to the ECCD service providers in consultation with coordinating committees at the provincial, city/municipal, and barangay levels, as provided for in Section 8 of this Act, and monitoring of ECCD service benefits and outcomes. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Labor and Employment
(DOLE), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) shall jointly prepare annual ECCD for work plans that will coordinate their respective technical assistance and support for the National ECCD Program. They shall consolidate existing program implementing guidelines that ensure consistency in integrated service delivery within the National ECCD System.
Role of Local Government Units
Local government units (LGUs) shall be primarily responsible for Implementing the National ECCD Program by providing basic public ECCD services; Supporting the organization of parent cooperatives to initiate the establishment of ECCD programs; Ensuring that service providers of public ECCD programs under their supervision shall be justly compensated, that adequate funds are made available, and their working conditions are conducive to fulfill national quality standards; and Providing counterpart funds for the training and continuing education of ECCD service providers, and supporting the operations of Provincial, City/Municipal and Barangay ECCD Coordinating Committees. They are also directly responsible for the management and operation of day-care centers.
Role of Families and Communities
The families and communities shall participate in various projects of the local ECCD programs for the overall development of their children.
Financing and Support for EECD Programs
ECCD programs at the community level shall be financed through a combination of public and private funds. All public ECCD program providers shall prioritize young children from families who are in greatest need and who can least or cannot afford private sector programs.
The government shall support public ECCD program through: cost sharing arrangements that involve the LGUs, and other funds from the national government agencies for technical assistance and support; additional funds may be generated from intergovernmental donors and financial institutions by the appropriate government agencies through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to support the public programs in all classes of municipalities including the urban poor.
Funds shall be accessible to qualified LGUs through the Municipal Development Fund or other financing mechanisms as prescribed by the Department of Finance (DOF) and based on guidelines from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The Council may establish a trust fund to assist LGUs in the expansion and upgrading of ECCD programs.
Primary health care programs, pre-natal and post-natal care, growth, monitoring and promotion, and supplementary nutrition programs shall continue to be funded through the LGUs with technical support and additional resources from the DOH.
The Day Care Program, Parent Effectiveness Service, Child-Minding Centers, Family Day Care and Parent-Child Development Programs shall continue to be supported by the LGUs in the form of construction of basic infrastructure, provision of facilities, materials and equipment, and compensation for the service providers. The DSWD shall provide for technical assistance.
The kindergarten program in public schools shall continue to be supported by the Department of Education (DepEd) in cooperation with the Parents, Teachers, and Community Association (PTCA), where applicable, by providing teacher training, supplementary learning materials and reference materials for ECCD programs.
The DSWD, DepEd, DOH, and DILG shall support the implementation by LGUs of the National ECCD Program and shall include in their respective annual general appropriations beginning the fiscal year, necessary funding to achieve the goal of national coverage within a five-year period and sustain the Program from thereon. The work and financial plan of the DSWD, DepEd, DOH, and DILG shall be coordinated with the Council.
The Philippines aims to protect the children and provide assistance for their needs including proper care and nutrition, special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, and exploitation. It also aims to fully recognize the nature of childhood and its special needs, promotes the rights of all children to survival, development and special protection, and supports parents in their roles as primary caregivers and their children’s first teachers. They aim to promote a system that is comprehensive, integrative, and sustainable premised on a multisectoral and interagency collaboration.