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MARCH 27, 2013

NR # 3056

Early Years Act ready to become a law

The proposed Early Years Act (EYA) of 2012 under House Bill 6694, which the Senate adopted in full, is now awaiting the signature of President Benigno Aquino III. HB 6694 is entitled, An Act Recognizing the Age from Zero to Eight Years as the First Crucial Stage of Educational Development and Strengthening the Early Childhood Care and Development System, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes. Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo (6th District, Manila), chairperson of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and one of the authors of the bill, expressed to her Senate counterpart, Sen. Edgardo Angara, the Houses firm stand on the provisions of HB 6694. Ocampo said the policy of the State is to promote the rights of children to survival; development and special protection with full recognition of the nature of childhood as well as the need to provide developmentally appropriate experiences to address their needs. The State also recognizes the age from zero to eight years as the first crucial stage of educational development of which the age from zero to four years shall be the responsibility of the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, Ocampo said. The responsibility to help develop children in the formative years between age five to eight years shall be with the Department of Education (DepEd), Ocampo said, noting that one of the principal authors of the measure was the late Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III. House Bill 6694 shall institutionalize a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) that is comprehensive, integrative and sustainable, involving multisectoral and interagency collaboration at the national and local levels among government, service providers, families and communities, and public and private sectors, non-government organizations, professional associations and academic institutions. The System refers to the full range of health, nutrition, early education and social services development programs that provide for the basic holistic needs of young children from age zero (0) to four (4) years and promote the young childrens optimum growth and development. The five (5) to eight (8) year old children are then strengthened under this Act. Also, direct beneficiary under this Act are children ages zero (0) to eight (8) with

special needs and disabilities, children who are blind, deaf or deafblind; and parents as primary caregivers and their childrens first teachers. Aside from the DepEd and ECCD Council, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Health (DOH), the National Nutrition Council (NNC) and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) shall provide a continuing professional development program support, supplementary learning and reference materials as well as supplemental nutrition and health care services. The Local Government Units (LGUs), meanwhile, shall include allocations from their Special Education Fund (SEF) and Gender and Development (GAD) Fund to support the implementation of ECCD programs. Aside from Escudero, other leading proponents of the bill are Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), Thelma Almario (2nd District, Davao Oriental), Mariano Piamonte, Jr. (Party List, A Teacher), Jane Castro (2nd District, Capiz), Kimi Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan), Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Maximo Dalog (Lone District, Mountain Province), Benjamin DR. Asilo (1st District, Manila), Fernando Gonzales (3rd District, Albay), Florencio Flores, Jr. (2nd District, Bukidnon), Pedro Pancho (2nd District, Bulacan), Luzviminda Ilagan (Party List, Gabriela), Monique Yazmin Lagdameo (1st District, Makati City), Magtanggol Gunigundo I (2nd District, Valenzuela City), Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), Jorge John Banal, Jr. (3rd District, Quezon City), Mel Senen Sarmiento (1st District, Western Samar), Linabelle Ruth Villarica (4th District, Bulacan), Sharon Garin ( Party List, AAMBIS-OWA), Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel (Lone District, Malabon), Agapito Guanlao (Party List, Butil), Rufus Ropdriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro), Deogracias Ramos, Jr. (2nd District, Sorsogon) Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte), Godofredo Arquiza (Party List, Sr. Citizens) and Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District, Negros Oriental). (30) jsc