MANILA, August 14, 2011—The universal kindergarten policy by the Department of Education (DepEd) seems to be ‘swinging out of tune’ with the Republic Act 8980 or the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD Law) Act of 2000.
In a statement, Gabriela Women Partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus said that the Universal Kindergarten Program (UKP) pushed by Education Sec. Armin Luistro, FsC is ill-prepared, that it has added a burden to poor families in the Philippines. She even called the project, “adelentado” or too early to be implemented.
“I visited some public schools and talked to parents, teachers and school administrators. I saw how the Department of Education hastily implemented this program without thorough consideration of the requirements that its implementation will entail. Facilities-wise, we face a total classroom shortage of around 150,000 classrooms for the school year 2011-2012 alone. We also need at least 77,000 new and qualified teachers. Kindergarten pupils should be provided with classrooms and classroom facilities that respond to their special needs as young children. Budget-wise, there was no clear budget allocation for this program in the 2011 General Appropriations Act. In a dialogue with the Department of Education that my office participated in, the DepEd officials who joined the dialogue admitted that they scrounged around for resources from varying allocations of the DepEd,” said De Jesus.
She also reminded the Secretary of Education that all programs, in connection with childcare and development should coincide with the existing laws and regulations of the Republic.
“Let me remind Undersecretary Umali and Secretary Luistro that RA 8980, under Section 2 Declaration of Policies, affirms that “The State shall institutionalize a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) that is comprehensive, integrative and sustainable…” which is … “anchored on complementary strategies for ECCD that include service delivery for children from conception to age six (6),” she said.
The UKP is created by the virtue of Executive Order No. 658 that President Aquino has signed. De Jesus has already filed a resolution, the House Resolution No. 1194, to look into the issue of UKP. (Noel Sales Barcelona)