There is a need to professionalize child development workers and align the various competencies of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) workers with educational programs in schools. This is the conclusion by the Commissioners of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) during a hearing between the Commission and the ECCD Council.
The hearing was also attended by representatives from the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Budget and Management, UNICEF Philippines, the UP Assessment, Curriculum, and Technology Research Centre (ACTRC), Save the Children, Miriam College, and the Philippine Normal University.
Two pathways proposed for professionalization of CDWs
According to data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), only 52.2% of child development workers (CDWs) in the Philippines are college graduates, with the rest of CDWs having a high school diploma (16.8%), vocational certificate (6.1%), some college units (24.8%), and post-graduate degrees (0.2%). The Commission also noted that about 52.6% of CDWs are aged 46 years old and above.
During the consultation, UNICEF Philippines ECD Specialist Psyche Vetta Olayvar shared that while CDW professionalization standards vary around the world, many ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, require only a two-year vocational diploma after high school to practice as CDWs.
During the hearing, Senate Basic Education Committee Chair and EDCOM 2 Co-Chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the ECCD Council to explore a “Philippine-style” of early childhood education that is aligned with international standards. The EDCOM urged the ECCD Council to explore two pathways that child development workers (CDWs) can take for career advancement. Firstly, by certification through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and secondly, for the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to create a ladderized program for CDWs.
Senate Bill 2029, filed in March 2023 by Gatchalian aims to address issues with the qualifications and career progression of preschool teachers and workers. The bill provides for the professionalization of child development workers and teachers, and seeks to streamline the delivery of ECCD services.
Rep. Romulo: Where is the bottleneck in ECCD?
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates that there will be 11.1 million children aged 0 to 4 this July, 4.5 million of which are aged 3 to 4 that the ECCD System should capture, Rep. Roman Romulo, EDCOM Co-Chairperson, pointed out.
“Where is the bottleneck in ECCD? What can we do to support our 11M children in the early years?”, Rep. Romulo asked the Council.
Dr. Teresita Inciong, Executive Director of the ECCD Council noted that the organization does not have the budget to train their officers. While simultaneous assessment of development centers will be finished at the end of this year, local government units (LGUs) are not compliant because they are only part of the technical working group.
“We are only a policy-making body and provide technical support to capacitate LGUs and agencies. We are pushing for another structure, that relies on the leadership of LGUs, and a partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government”, Dr. Inciong said.
The Commission also cited how the 2024 budget of the ECCD Council for training of the CDWs was reduced, from the proposed P23M, to only P4M – enough to train only 400 daycare workers in the country. Representatives from the Department of Budget and Management cited underutilization of funds as the reason for the decline.
ECCD must take a larger role in professionalization
During the discussion, the Commission noted that the requirement for a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education may be too difficult for CDWs who are currently practicing in daycares throughout the country. The Commissioners urged the Council to explore how to professionalize existing workers who have had a long experience or prior education in daycares, but who are still not officially recognized as CDWs.
Rep. Kiko Benitez, one of the ten Commissioners of EDCOM 2, suggested that the ECCD Council must play a larger role in the professionalization of CDWs. “The standards for professionalizing and ladderizing CDWs should come from the ECCD Council”, he said.
Benitez also noted that the role of the ECCD Council is to advocate and emphasize increased resources, programming, monitoring, and evaluation of programs aimed at children aged 0-4, in accordance with the National Nutrition Council’s Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition.
UNICEF: Only 4 out of 10 children attend early childhood programs
UNICEF Philippines presented data that indicated that only four out of ten children 3-5 years old attended early childhood education programs.
They suggested several strategies to increase this number, including: adopting a pro-poor policy commitment, strengthening the leadership to prioritize pre-primary education, planning for universal access, and coordinating government, civil society, and private provision of pre-primary education.