UNICEF supports the Philippine Government’s thrust of expanding access to quality Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) which includes promoting universal Kindergarten.
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 entering Grade 1.

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.

The factors that affect participation in early education include poverty; gender, ethnicity, low level of awareness of the value of early childhood education; disabilities; long distance from school; threats of dislocation among informal settlers, and exposure to conflict and natural disasters; and urban challenges.


In line with UNICEF’s thrust to focus on areas identified by Government as the most disadvantaged, the Education Program will be implemented in selected municipalities and cities experiencing one or combinations of vulnerabilities, such as extreme urban poverty, conflict or natural disasters.

To ensure that efforts are sustained and scaled up, UNICEF will work mainly with national government agencies in creating an enabling ECCD policy and programme environment. UNICEF will also collaborate with LGUs to demonstrate effective ECCD services and replicate these models. It will also work with national and local government partners and the donor community to leverage resources for quality ECCD services.

UNICEF’s support will be framed by the new education structure—the K to12 Program, which is embodied in the package of policy reforms under the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA).

UNICEF also seeks to ensure that marginalized and excluded young children are ready to learn and enter school at the right age, and that marginalized and excluded children participate in and complete quality elementary education—by focusing on developing children’s “readiness to learn” in pre-school; “learning how to learn” in the early grades; and maximizing basic opportunities to learn in the higher grades.


Early childhood care and development

  • Increased participation of 3-5 year old children in ECCD services in nine focus areas—Mountain Province, Masbate, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao City, Maguindanao and Manila—reaching a 69.74 per cent gross enrolment rate in 2011.
  • Six of nine LGUs have issued policies increasing support and investments for ECCD.
  • Over 9,000 3-5 year-old children from conflict-affected Bangsamoro communities are now attending culture-responsive ECCD services in 313 Tahderiyyahs (Islamic preschools).
  • UNICEF provided technical inputs to the following policies: (a) R.A. 10157—Institutionalizing Kindergarten (KG) education into the basic education system (2012); (b) DepED Order 21 (2011)—Implementing the Universal Kindergarten KG Program; (c) DepED Order 23 (2011), on the Kindergarten Summer Program; and (d) DSWD Administrative Order 15—Guidelines for improved accreditation of day care  (early learning) centers and workers. 
  • UNICEF initiated advocacy to ensure a coherent curriculum and solid foundation for early learning.
  • LGU resources maximized to expand support to ECCD innovations (home-based ECCD, “ECCD on-horse,”, “ECCD on wheels,” etc.). 

Child-friendly school system

  • Established a network of child-friendly models in 5,300 primary schools and 61 high schools nationwide in 24 focus areas located in the three main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
  • Established the Student Tracking System (STS) to enrich the School-based Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for BESRA. 
  • Developed tools for child-friendly school practices for teachers.
  • Improved community-school partnerships to advance child rights.
  • Contributed to the strengthening of Madrasah Education through development of instructional materials.

Education in Emergencies

  • Functional Education in Emergencies Cluster integrated into the National Emergency Clusters.
  • During emergencies, ensure a holistic, integrated response through technical assistance, provision of learning supplies and collaboration with sectors such as Child Protection for psychosocial support and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for WASH in schools. In the conflict affected areas, help establish learning institutions (ECCD centers and schools) as Zones of Peace. 
  • Contributed to the strengthening the capacity of the Department of Education in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness.





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