UNICEF supports the Philippine Government’s thrust of expanding access to quality Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) which includes promoting universal Kindergarten. This is meant to contribute towards the achievement of the education MDGs – Universal Primary Education and Gender Equality in Basic Education.
The ECCD program addresses the long-standing concern with creating an equitable platform for learning and providing the best start for all children, by ensuring that every Filipino child has access to some form of ECCD and school readiness programs before
UNICEF, in collaboration with government and non-government partners, supports ECCD initiatives and participates in promoting parental awareness and appreciation of the value of ECCD. UNICEF also promotes a holistic approach to early learning, bringing in many crucial child development processes such as children’s active participation through interactive learning and play, health, hygiene, sanitation, and overall well-being as well as teachers’ motivation, and community support for children’s safe and secure environment.
Despite recent government efforts to improve the policy environment, expand access and enhance quality, implementation gaps persist and significant challenges remain. National statistics indicate that only 78 out of 100 Grade 1 entrants have kindergarten experience. Among the 6 year olds, which is the official entry age to Grade 1, 14.5 per cent are not in school and 25 per cent are still in preschool.
Research shows that children who don’t start school at the right age are more likely to have learning difficulties, to repeat or drop out. Most dropouts occur in Grades 1 and 2 which could indicate lack of school readiness that is best ensured by attending quality ECCD.