Press Release
November 21, 2011

Senate approves 2 bills on third reading

The Senate today approved two bills on third and final reading; one seeking to stop discrimination in the workplace and other areas of society and another measure seeking to make kindergarten education mandatory among five year pupils.

First to be approved by19 senators present was the Kindergarten Education Act of 2011, sponsored by Senator Edgardo J. Angara. The bill was earlier approved on Second Reading before the Senate adjourned for a recess last October.

Also approved unanimously on third reading was Senate Bill No. 2814, otherwise known as the Anti-Discrimination Act was sponsored by Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of Senate Committee on Cultural Communities.

Legarda said she was hopeful that there will be lesser cases of discrimination in the country in the event Senate Bill no. 2814 will be enacted into law.

"Our Constitution provides that the State has the mandate to protect any person - an all-encompassing term that applies equally to all human beings, regardless of their racial, ethnic or religious affiliation. We even entered into various international commitments to end racial discrimination including the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. Despite this, we remain a nation that throws all forms of bias and prejudice at those who we perceive to be 'different' from the majority," Legarda said when he first sponsored the bill on the Senate floor.

Legarda said the bill seeks to promote a society that values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights regardless of race, religion and ethnicity. The measure seeks to penalize acts of discrimination in the following fields: employment, education, delivery of goods and services, accommodation, media, and in search and investigatory activities.

Meanwhile, Angara said the Kindergarten Education Act was written to be as flexible as possible--the curriculum is unspecified, and dependent on the educational establishment implementing the measure. Local government units also need not worry about a lack of funding for infrastructure because they can make use of the day care centers established in almost every barangay as classrooms for Kindergarten, he said.

Angara added that he believed that the measure, especially when coupled with the K12 curriculum which will add two more years of senior high school, will raise the quality of Filipino education.

In his sponsorship speech, Angara said the six years of primary schooling in the Philippines fall well below international standards.

"Because we lack the prescribed number of years in school, our engineering graduates are only hired as engineering assistants, and our nurses as nursing aids, when they go abroad," he said.

"Why did we add a year before Grade 1 and not after Grade 6? Because in the Philippines, we have the highest drop-out rate in grades one to three--partly because of poverty, but also because so many of these children begin school ill-equipped for the rigors of the new environment of the classroom," Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, added.

"By requiring them to go through a year of kindergarten before they enter Grade 1, we teach and prepare these children to adjust to the school environment, helping them become more receptive to their lessons later on," said Angara. "We will also teach Kindergarten in children's mother tongues."

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