Children raise their hands in class at San Antonio Primary School in the town of Pilar in Capiz Province. UNICEF has provided running water and improved sanitation services to the school.
In August 2006 in the Philippines, the number of children without access to early learning is increasing. Research has shown that children who participate in early childhood development (ECD) programmes are more likely to complete school and have higher incomes as adults. Yet only one-third of the nation’s three- to five-year-old children are enrolled in ECD programmes or day care of any kind. In impoverished and densely populated urban communities, ECD centres can accommodate at most one-tenth of the total number of eligible children. The lack of these programmes is paralleled by unacceptably high rates of under-nutrition in children under three and a gradual decline in the number of fully immunized children. In response, UNICEF has partnered with the Manila City Government and the local NGO Kababaihan ng Maynila (Women of Manila) to introduce the ‘Learn and Play’ programme in several depressed areas of the city, including BASECO (Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company), a former shipyard. The programme recruits and trains parent-volunteers to work as home-based teachers. Participating children also receive essential services, such as birth registration, growth monitoring, food and immunization. There are now 70 home-based day-care centres in Manila. For communities without day-care services, ‘Learn and Play’ has launched a mobile day-care centre, acquired and equipped with UNICEF assistance. UNICEF also provides learning materials and supplies.