What is UNICEF doing to increase access to early learning among children in the Philippines?

©UNICEF Philippines/2015/Jeremy Bayaya

In the Philippines, data from the Department of Social Welfare & Development show only around 42% of 3–4 year old children are enrolled in day care centers. The Multiple Indicator Survey of 2016 confirms an overall low prevalence of attendance in pre-school for children aged 3–4 in 36 municipalities covered.

UNICEF works with government partners to ensure that every Filipino child has access to quality early learning programs before they enter Grade 1.

1. Advocacy for early learning — By increasing awareness about early learning among government leaders and other stakeholders, UNICEF seeks to increase commitment and support for providing quality and inclusive early learning services for children, especially for those in difficult situations where children don’t have access to early learning programs.

2. Development of national standards and learning materials — UNICEF supports and provides technical assistance to government partners in developing age- and developmentally appropriate curriculum, and teaching and learning materials. This helps ensure that all children receive quality early learning services.

Day care center workers in Tacloban City, Philippines, attend an interactive training session conducted by UNICEF and partners. ©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Joey Reyna

3. Training — To enhance their capacity to provide quality early learning services to young children, UNICEF supports the training of preschool and kindergarten teachers, as well other child development workers and supervisors, in implementing and managing early learning programs.

4. Data collection and management — UNICEF helps local governments, schools and other stakeholders to collect data on children in their communities. With accurate data, stakeholders can better plan social services for children in their communities, including early learning programs that help ensure children’s smooth transition from preschool and kindergarten to grade 1, especially for children in difficult situations, including those with disabilities.

A child attends class at one of the tents provided by UNICEF to serve as temporary classrooms in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. ©UNICEF Philippines/2013/Jeoffrey Maitem

5. Emergency assistance — UNICEF provides temporary learning spaces and learning supplies to schools and communities affected by emergencies. This helps ensure that children are able to continue their learning when day care centers/schools are damaged or destroyed, and when classrooms are being used as evacuation centers. Going back to day care/school after a disaster helps children recover and regain a sense of normalcy.

Teacher Muntiya Amor’s pupils learn about shapes and colors at Madrasah Nor-Faidah Al-Islamiah, a Tahderiyyah in Mable, Malabang, Lanao del Sur. The Tahderiyyah curriculum is based on the principles of early childhood and development, which enhances learning competencies of young children. ©UNICEF Philippines/2015/Jeoffrey Maitem

6. Development of culturally sensitive and innovative early learning programs — UNICEF supports the Department of Education and other partners in improving early education programs in conflict-affected areas and indigenous communities in Mindanao. Tailoring lesson plans to children’s cultures and teaching lessons and activities in their mother tongue provides a more inclusive and relevant education environment. As a result, young children in these communities are more interested to attend school.

7. Research on equitable and quality early childhood care and development — UNICEF pioneers research studies to inform policies which promote inclusion, equity, quality and increased investment in early childhood care and development. One major study is the on-going ECCD Longitudinal Study which tracks a cohort of kindergarten pupils until they will reach Grade 4. Results of the research will provide inputs to improving policies, programs and budget to ensure that children are ready for school and are performing well as they continue their schooling and complete basic education.

For more information about UNICEF’s work in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.