“Naging heavy talaga yung human resource development for teachers since primarily sila talaga yung magdadala ng program.” – Ms. Aileen Villanueva, CSWDO of San Fernando, Pampanga
One way of investing in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) in the Philippines is by building a National Child Development Center in the community. But we all know that it is only a start. Once the structure has been built, it is also important to invest in the people who will be in-charge of running the center and its programs.
The Investments of San Fernando City, Pampanga
Guided by Mayor Edwin Santiago’s belief that it takes a generation to change a culture, the City of San Fernando, Pampanga has been heavily investing in ECCD through the years. According to Ms. Aileen Villanueva, the City’s Social Welfare and Development Officer, “Naiintindihan kasi ni mayor na yung quality education kung maaga siyang nasisimulan, malaki yung impact niyan sa future ng [San Fernando] City.”
When they established their NCDC and CDCs in their community, they were required to send 10 of their Child Development Workers to be trained as Child Development Teachers. Once the teachers came back from their scholarship, they then became peer coaches to other teachers in their community, and from there the city decided to continue their investment on their teachers by providing them with more scholarship programs. “From the LGU funded po na training na may equivalent na education units yung first batch 25, then yung second batch 18 sila,” Ms. Villanueva shared.
Aside from scholarship programs, they also conduct regular training sessions on Infant and Toddler Development, Special Education, Values Enhancement and other topics that are deemed to help equip their teachers in becoming quality educators for the children aged 0-4. When asked how they were able to conduct such programs, Ms. Villanueva said that, “Nang magkaroon kami ng copy of the joint circular on the revised guidelines on the use of Special Education Fund nagsimula na kami pondohan ito. Tapos yung local school board namin very supportive naman sa continuing ng professional development ng mga [early childhood] teachers.”
Alongside the improvement of the quality of their ECCD programs, the City has also started in providing more access to ECCD by building more CDCs, a total of three every year since the NCDC was established, and creating home-based programs for families that cannot bring their child to Centers in their community. Ms. Villanueva shared, “Nag hire din po kami ng 18 volunteer teachers na honorarium based para madagdagan ang aming teachers. Para po yung mga hindi makapunta sa Center, sila na lang ang pupuntahan ng mga teachers.”
Given the various investments in improving ECCD services and programs in their community, Ms. Villanueva said that, “As of now hindi masasabi na universal yung access namin so gusto namin malakihan yung coverage.”
To ensure this, the City has also worked with various sectors to ensure that their programs are sustainable, Ms. Villanueva shared, “Yung ECCD Committee namin naging functional. Hindi lang CSWDO ang may alam sa ECCD standards. We get full support and cooperation of DepEd (Department of Education) ngayon nga kaka-launch lang nung parang call center nila para sa mga parents and sinama na nila yung ECCD.” The project is called EduQare and they answer inquiries on ECCD, offer assistance on modules, and accept incident reports. Aside from this, the committee has the City Engineering Office as its member to ensure that their Centers follow the proper design and safety standards and that their City’s Human Resources Office is
knowledgeable on the qualifications and compensation for their teachers.
Return of Investment
When asked if they have already seen a return of their investment, Ms. Villanueva proudly said that they recently received good feedback from the parents of the children enrolled in the NCDC and CDCs: “Syempre ang hirap na may tinuturuan din silang ibang anak na mas matanda. Pero sa ECCD daw nag-eenjoy sila. Saka malaking tulong yung naga-guide talaga sila ng teachers at nabibigyan ng tips kung paano turuan yung mga anak nila. Na-validate ko yun last week lang we had a parents conference coming from them na mismo na hindi sila masyadong nahirapoan
because the teachers guide them.”
Aside from this, she has also seen hope the parents have changed their expectations for their children through the years: “…na-educate yung mga parents. Dati nung nagsimula kami iba yung expectation masyadong academic ngayon na-aappreciate na nila yung ECCD.”
Aside from the parents’ feedback, Ms. Villanueva also shared, “Yung DepEd nakakauha kami ng feedback na iba din talaga pag galing ng ECCD. Nakikita nila yung difference nung dumaan sa ECCD saka yung hindi.”
The investment of the City of San Fernando started with one NCDC and 10 teachers. From there they were able to invest in more programs and structures for their ECCD programs and services, and as early as now, they are already seeing the return of their investments.
This shows that investing in people is as important as investing in physical structures where they work. As the City of San Fernando has shown, capacitating teachers who run the programs and services is a good investment that impacts the children, their families, and the whole community.