MANILA, Philippines – The Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, the Department of Education (DepED), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched this February an innovative project called Early Learning for Life which aims to help children ages 3-5 years old get ready for school.
“The vital years of the child 0-6 years old should be a collective aspiration,” said Dr. Teresita G. Inciong, Chairperson of the ECCD Governing Board. She continued: “It is in this light that the Project responds to the urgent need for children to get the right start to learning and development, and eventually complete their education.”
Significant research studies show that 50 per cent of a person’s ability to learn is developed in the first few years of life. However, national statistics indicate that only 78 out of 100 Grade 1 entrants have kindergarten experience.
“This initiative is most welcome as it will give our young learners a strong foundational head start in early education,” Department of Education Secretary Bro. Armin A. Luistro, FSC said.
The $18M project, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and in collaboration with UN children’s agency, UNICEF, will be implemented in 36 disadvantaged areas in the Philippines until 2016.
A synergy of efforts that builds on the work of local and national government, and links with the government’s flagship poverty alleviation projects, it also seeks to build models of quality early childhood care and development (ECCD) programs and mainstream innovations and quality standards at the national level.
ECCD is a critical foundation for lifelong learning—it paves the way for children to be ready, to stay, to participate more and to learn better in school. Rich early learning experiences have a strong, positive impact that reaches well into adulthood. Based on a number of studies internationally, it is known to have a wide range of significantly positive impact on people’s life not only during childhood but also well into adulthood, such as better academic performance and higher educational attainment; higher socio-economic status; higher job skills; better health-related behaviours; and lower rates of crime commitment and incarceration.
It is a wise investment that consequently translates to a strengthened platform for poverty reduction and economic growth.
“Improving the quality of basic education is a priority for Australia’s development program in the Philippines. We understand that access to quality education improves one’s opportunities in life to help people overcome poverty. Australia invests in early childhood education in recognition of the significant role ECCD plays in improving the quality of learning outcomes, retention and completion rates of school children,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said.
Early childhood care and development is also a child’s right. It is a responsibility not only of parents, but of the community and the government. Providing improved access to quality ECCD for Filipino boys and girls is aligned with, and support the Philippine government’s convergence and reform agenda in education, social protection and poverty reduction.
“We should continue to build on the work of the government and understand the many challenges that keep children from getting the right start to learning. These 36 areas perform much lower than the national average when it comes to school readiness. If we are able to address the challenges facing children who are most deprived, we will be in a better position to ensure their growth and success. By creating an early learning model that is sensitive to their situation, we are able to offer a solution that works for all areas in the country,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi said.
The Early Learning for Life program will reach out to the most disadvantaged children who suffer from multiple vulnerabilities as a result of armed conflict, disaster and urban challenges.