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Missing out on early education

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When it comes to early education in the Philippines, which was also included in the 398-page Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom II) report, it was found that lack of government support for the sector’s workers and insufficient day care centers, also referred to as child development centers (CDCs), continue to hound the country’s early education programs.

The report found that becoming a teacher in early childhood education (ECE) has little appeal due to low honorarium and lack of job security. Data gathered by the report from the Department of Social Welfare and Development revealed that 14,725 child development workers/teachers are receiving only a monthly honorarium worth less than P1,000 from their respective local government, which is a pittance compared to the average salary of P5,000 per month for nonpermanent day care workers or teachers, while salaries for kindergarten teachers, as provided by the Department of Education, is at around P27,000 a month.

The congressional body also revealed that only 11 percent of child development teachers have permanent positions, with 89 percent having nonpermanent, or even voluntary roles.

“Since child development workers rely on [local governments] for their monthly pay, their professional development is also subject to the support of their leadership,” the report said.

The Edcom II report also observed that there were only 3,993 graduates specializing in early education degrees since 2005 and a mere 224 institutions have been providing such a degree, based on data from the Commission on Higher Education. Such figures equate to an average of approximately 80 graduates per year, which is significantly short of the demand.

Further, the number of CDCs nationwide are not enough, especially in poor areas. Out of the 42,027 barangays, 26,820 have no recorded CDCs, meaning only 36 percent of barangays have at least one CDC.

Edcom II called for the need for intervention at the national level and the creation of pathways for child development workers by undertaking certificate programs for them. It also added that plantilla positions should be created for child development workers and teachers that could enhance job security and professional stability among them.

Early childhood programs such as the country’s so-called child development centers will need more support, both from national and local government, if it is going to be relevant for Filipino families and helpful for the children in such programs. Funding for more CDCs, improving the quality of staffing through better pay, job security, and opportunities for further growth and development, as well as more focus on the programs that have been ignored by government at all levels, as it has been content to pass the burden to the Filipino family instead.

Perhaps the attention that has been brought to the issue by Edcom II will open some eyes and minds, especially here in our province, and lead to better support for Filipino families and young children.*

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