CALAMBA CITY, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday morning visited Real Elementary School in Barangay Real here to discuss the pre-school and early childhood care and development curriculum program.
Arroyo discussed Executive Order No. 685, which has expanded the scope of pre-school coverage to include five-year-old children enrolled among day care centers across the country.
The executive order, signed on 2008, was in line with Section 2 of Republic Act 8980, which mainly institutionalized the Early Childhood Care and Development Act.
Arroyo said EO 685 has been part of her administration's efforts to promote zero drop-out rates and avoid repetition of toddlers when they reach the primary grades.
Accompanying Arroyo was Department of Education Secretary Jesli Lapus who enumerated government projects on education.
According to Lapus, the government now operates about 13, 000 pre-schools, 400 of which are for the disabled.
“We have also downloaded P1.6 billion for the expenses of public schools that used to be shouldered by LGUs (local government units) and PTAs (Parent-Teachers Assciations).”
In exchange for the benefits and incentives provided by the national governnment, parents were expected to send their children to school, Lapus said.
Meanwhile, Arroyo said the government was able to hire 60,000 additional teachers while P1.5 billion was already allotted to the training of public school teachers.
The ‘Education for All’ agenda, according to Arroyo, mainly seeks to mainstream early childhood development in basic education.
“Ang magandang edukasyon ay susi sa mas magandang buhay, (a good education is key to a better life) the great equalizer that allows every young Filipino a chance to realize their dreams,” she said.
EO 685 was based on findings and studies showing that pre-school experience plays a crucial factor in the performance of Grade 1 students under the formal school system.
Arroyo stressed, “our children are our most cherished possession. In their early years, we must make sure they get a healthy start in life.”
During her speech, she clarified that public school students should not be obliged to wear their school uniforms if the costs for uniforms have been discouraging them from attending classes.
To complement the pre-school program, Arroyo also discussed her Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Stop-gap Subsidies for Filipino Families) where families of poor students are given cash as subsidy.
Arroyo also observed classes on early childhood care and development curriculum.
She left at around 10:20 a.m. for the inspection of the South Luzon Expressway.
Simultaneous with the visit, some 30 members of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog, staged a short demonstration also in Barangay Real.