Press Release
May 30, 2011

Senate approves Early Years Act on final reading

Senate approved today on Third and Final Reading a bill that would enhance early education among children below six years old.

Senate Bill 2802, otherwise known as the Early Years Act, is expected to benefit 17 million Filipino children nationwide, according to Senator Edgardo Angara.

Angara, who authored the measure along with Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, said the proposed law aims to shift the concept of the day care center from a playroom to a learning center by rationalizing and restructuring the day care into an early childhood education center.

Angara also said that the measure aims to improve the educational system in the country with the crafting of a formal curriculum for pre-school pupils that will enable them to cope with elementary lessons.

"Forty percent of the children entering Grade I are not ready for school. As such, four out of 10 children drop out of the elementary level and never return to complete their education," Angara said during interpellation last May 16.

Angara cited the latest results of the National Achievement Test conducted among 1.6 million Grade Six students which showed a mean percentage score (MPS) of 59.9 percent. This means that for every ten items, a Grade Six student can correctly answer five items, he said.

According to Angara, the measure also aims to address the lack of facilities and limited teaching staff besetting pre-school education.

He estimated that only 46% or about 2.5 million children below six years old are being accommodated by the available 49,000 day care centers nationwide.

For the implementation of the Act, P500 million per year for the first five years will be appropriated for the National ECCD Program, which will be sourced from PAGCOR.

In addition, an initial annual appropriation of P1 billion from the GAA shall be provided to the ECCD Council.

"We are able to minimize the initial funding requirement because the basic infrastructure for the child development centers are already there. We will be using the existing daycare centers throughout the country, turning them into more education-oriented institutions," Angara explained.

Angara said the measure also calls for the training of additional childhood development teachers so they could detect and identify gifted and development disorders and disabilities among children below six years old and make the corresponding recommendations.

The measure, Angara stressed, entails more than just child-minding and childcare--it includes the provision of health, nutrition, early education and social development services for the children.

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