A worrying 59% reduction in the early childhood budget

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, sounded the alarm on Friday over the reduction in the budget of the Council for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and its consequences for young learners and their long-term development.

For fiscal year 2022, the Council of ECCD, an agency attached to the Ministry of Education (DepEd), was allocated 71.9 million pesos, 59% less than its budget of 173.5 million pesos for 2021.

Among the agencies attached to DepEd, the ECCD Council will have the largest budget reduction.

While Gatchalian supports an increase in the ECCD Council’s budget, he also urged the agency to improve its use of funds, noting that among the agencies attached to DepEd, the ECCD Council has the lowest commitment rate at 33%. .

In 2019, the unused funds of the ECCD Council amounted to 53 million pesos. For 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the agency’s unused credits swelled to 330 million pesos.

“It is important that we focus on educating children in their infancy, as this serves as a foundation for their learning. The pandemic has hampered the delivery of services related to early childhood care and development. Instead of cutting the fund for it, let’s help ECCD service providers and their learners cope and recover, ”Gatchalian said in Filipino.

The senator cited a 2020 World Bank policy note that warned of the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and school closures on early childhood education and basic learning at primary school.

The World Bank has noted that the development of literacy and numeracy between the ages of 0-8 years old lays the foundation upon which all future learning rests.

“The agency’s performance missed last year’s target in terms of creating NCDC (National Child Development Centers) and number of daycare centers converted to CDC (Child Development Centers) “said Gatchalian.

He also noted that the low engagement rate could be due to the inability of the ECCD Board to use its budget to build the 108 targeted NCDCs. Only 32 NCDCs were built.

Under Republic Law 10410 or the “Early Childhood Law 2013”, the ECCD Council is responsible for the implementation of the national ECCD system, which covers health, nutrition, education programs. preschool and developmental social services for the basic holistic needs of young children ages 0-4.

The functions of the ECCD Council also include the development of a national system for the early identification, screening and monitoring of young children aged 0-4 years.

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