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P25-B sought for early child development — Unicef

Kindergarten students engage in art activities during class in Marikina classes, Aug. 25, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/WALTER BOLLOZOS

A United Nations body said the government should allocate P25 billion, or at least 10% of the education budget, in early childhood education (ECE), given the growing skills gap and preschool enrolments.

In a statement, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said investments are needed for “increased salaries and training programs among child development workers, construction of new child development centers, supplementary feeding programs,” and other operating expenses.

Informal Unicef surveys showed day care workers in disadvantaged areas receiving an honorarium of as low as P1,000 per month, less than the average salary of P5,000 for non-permanents.

A study with the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council noted 48% of ECE worker respondents were college graduates, 50% had attended less than two trainings, and 22% were tenured.

“We need to make being a child development worker a dignified profession,” Behzad Noubary, deputy representative for programs at Unicef Philippines, told reporters in an e-mailed press statement on Wednesday.

“They have the right to decent and fair wages, learning opportunities to improve or gain new skills, and various forms of support to improve their work,” he said.

“Every child deserves access to quality early childhood education,” he added, noting a growth in ECE enrolment, which stands at 27%, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Low investments in ECE mean that child development workers are falling behind their peers in other countries.”

Unicef has been providing policy recommendations to the Second Congressional Commission on Education for professionalized early learning systems, alongside aligning Kindergarten to Grade 3 standards with the ECCD Council and the Education department.

It has also started implementing a competency-based professional development system for child development workers. – Miguel Hanz L. Antivola

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