The National Early Childhood Development Project (ECD).(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Article excerpt

A SIX-YEAR project which started in 1998 and ends in 2003 focuses on a provincewide implementation of activities that will provide homebased, day care center-based and school-based interventions in Regions 6, 7 and 12. It is implemented by three agencies the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Education (DepEd).

The DSWD is the lead agency for the implementation and is responsible for project management. The Project recognizes the critical importance of an Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) as an integral component in the attainment of project goals. Funded by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Government of the Philippines, the ECD Project aims to achieve some of these objectives, namely, the reduction by 30% of the under-five mortality rate from the baseline value (estimated at over 35 per thousand); reduction by 40% in the proportion of children under six with Grade 2 or 3 underweight from the baseline value; reduction by 30% of children under six with anemia from the baseline value of around 50% among infants; increase to 90% in proportion of children aged 12-18 months fully immunized from the baseline value of 85%; improvement in a combined index of child development (motor and cognitive skills) among children under six; increase in completion rate from Grade 1 to 70% of Grade 1 entrants from baseline value of 50%; and increase to 75% in proportion of total children aged 3-5 in targeted municipalities.

How does ECD hope to achieve the above? Through activities which include working with parents to strengthen their parenting skills, working to provide or strengthen day care options, developing preschools and other early childhood education programs that address the child's needs in a holistic way, as well as striving to bolster the community in its economic, physical and moral support of families and young children. ECD therefore places the burden of responsibility to parents who are the primary caregivers and teachers; external caregivers, day care workers, child development workers, teachers, midwives, health workers, nurses, doctors and social workers.

The philosophy behind ECD is that learning begins at conception when important developments occur that affect the brain, the physical body and the chemistry of the child. All these have bearing on the child's ability to learn, to thrive, to grow and be healthy. …