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Education & Development

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Measuring young children’s long-term development

A pioneering study looking at the impacts of early years education in the Philippines is providing stakeholders with strategies to improve learning.

Results from the fourth round of the Philippines Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Longitudinal Study are providing stakeholders with evidence to support teachers, schools and officials to support children’s learning.

The importance of ECCD to children’s long-term development has been recognised by the Philippines and the global community. The Philippines was one of 193 countries that committed to providing ’high quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education’ under Target 4.2 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Philippines’ commitment is demonstrated by the introduction of the Early Years Act of 2013, which recognises the ages zero to eight as the first crucial stage of educational development.

In response to the Early Years Act, the Republic of the Philippines Department of Education (DepED) and UNICEF commissioned the Philippines ECCD Study. The study is the first of its kind in the Philippines to collect longitudinal evidence on student’s academic and social-emotional development. The study represents a major research investment into the effects of early childhood education in the Philippines.

The study follows a cohort of 4500 children from a range of contexts and backgrounds across the three main island groups of the Philippines. The children’s cognitive, social-emotional, and oral language skills were measured at the commencement of schooling and across the first three years of schooling in order to compare the skills development of children who have participated in pre-school education and those who have not, and monitor their respective growth and development over time..

Results from round four – students at the end of Grade 2 – were reported to education stakeholders in May. Key findings from round four included:

  • All learners showed some growth in literacy, but 40 percent of Grade 2 students in the study are not ready for the Grade 3 curriculum. High social-emotional skills continued to be positively associated with academic performance.
  • The performance of students in conflict-affected areas continued to lag well-behind their peers.
  • Access to pre-school continued to make a positive difference to later results in literacy, numeracy and social-emotional development.
  • Early registration programs provided teachers with the opportunity to interact with parents and learners, which in turn supported enrolments and transitions in school.

The study is providing the Government of the Philippines with detailed evidence to guide many education sector reforms. The significance of the findings led to the study being extended for a further two years, until the end of Grade 4. By 2020, the study will have provided DepEd with evidence regarding the performance and growth of a cohort of children’s learning in a range of contexts from Kindergarten to Grade 4.

Funded by UNICEF and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the study is being undertaken by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization’s Center for Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH), with support from the Assessment, Curriculum and Technology Research Centre (ACTRC). ▪

Find out more:
Read about the findings of rounds three and one of the Philippines Early Childhood Care and Development Longitudinal Study in ACER’s Research Developments.


About the author

Adeola Monty is a Research Fellow in ACER’s Education and Development research program.

More [rd] articles by Adeola Monty


About the author

Rachel Parker is a Senior Research Fellow in ACER’s Education and Development research program.

More [rd] articles by Rachel Parker

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