The author was one of the stakeholders from the Philippines interviewed by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation“For every dollar invested in the development of a child, there is a seven-dollar return for society,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. For a well-functioning society, we need happy and healthy adults; but to have happy and healthy adults, we need to nurture our children in secure and loving homes where every aspect of their well-being is adequately cared for. When we help our kids develop strong foundations in early childhood, we set them up for success.
We at the Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. (KCFI) know how important it is to invest in our children, not just for their own personal success but for the success of the nation. We have launched various shows and conducted different initiatives for early childhood development (ECD) nationwide and, this July, we worked with Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) to help advance research on ECD.
APC, a diverse community of philanthropists who seek to collectively impact and drive change in the region for social good, released the results of the Regional ECD Landscape Study on July 6.
This study, conducted by international social enterprise Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) and funded by KCFI and 11 other regional philanthropic organizations, is a comprehensive mapping of ECD policies and programs across Asia to date. Focusing on China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, CEI reviewed 276 programs and 145 policies on ECD and interviewed 52 stakeholders—among whom I was honored to be included—from the government, the academe and community services.
Across the region, CEI found that the governments have intensified their commitment to providing holistic support for ECD. More programs and policies have been enacted as a result; however, implementing these locally remains difficult, with different socioeconomic and cultural barriers—like malnutrition, insufficient sustainable financing and lack of capacity and knowledge in the sector—getting in the way.
For the Philippines in particular, CEI has found that the country is still grappling with issues like malnutrition and a rising incidence of obesity; significant gaps in maternal and childhood health due to lack of resources, unequal healthcare access and increasing vaccine hesitancy; and a misunderstanding of early learning caused by the lack of reliable data and a disconnect between national strategies and local implementation.
plementation. Other issues include lowquality support for responsive caregiving and caregivers as a result of the persisting use of corporal punishment, and undertrained, overworked and underpaid workers in the field of social work and family support; problems with safety and security because of a lack of awareness of existing ECD policies, limited avenues to report related concerns; and unequal access to water, sanitation, hygiene and support, especially in rural areas.
The study had three recommendations for donors and ECD advocates: build the local knowledge base, build the capacity of local government units, and strengthen datadriven decision- making.
Through these recommendations, we can work towards better understanding the impact of programs and policies on the children and their families, reducing the barriers to effective implementation, and strengthening evidence informed policymaking in the country.
I am honored to have participated in this groundbreaking study on behalf of KCFI, and to have our videos on ECD for young learners and caregivers recognized as a strong, research-based resource for parenting and responsive caregiving. We are also thankful to have our Knowledge Channel ECD training included in this study as a program for early learning.
for recording purposes.
(Story/Photos by: Rina Lopez)