Press Release
May 13, 2009


Identifies benefits of early childhood education

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said the country needs to improve its early childhood education system and underscored the need to invest more in early childhood education in order to gain competitiveness in the global arena, this he said as he speak before early childhood educators at the SEAMEO Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) in Quezon city.

"Behavioral science tells us there is no single most important period in a person's life than childhood. That is where we learn our most vital lessons. There, bonds are formed and lasting ties are cemented. They say there is nothing more sacred than a child's trust. And that is why we are here. To make sure that the trust so unconditionally given to us by the members of the next generation is well-placed. We are here to ensure continuity in efforts to provide holistic development for children within these years," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

He added, "And why is this important? Because the fruits of our efforts are promising. Children who undergo pre-school are less aggressive, less prone to violence. For example, the Syracuse Family Development Research Program provided family development support for children from prenatal care through age five. Ten years later, these kids reported 70% reductions in problems with probation and criminal offenses from the average."

It has been shown that children who attended pre-school score 27% higher on a standard math test compared to students that didn't attend pre-school. Preschool boosts a child's cognitive and language and social development.

An evaluation of the Infant Health Development Program (IHDP), which provided pre-primary education and healthcare support to poor, malnourished toddlers showed that children exposed to the program longer had higher IQ than those who had shorter exposure to IHDP.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia's prime minister remarked that early childhood development has the highest returns in economic development.

Angara added that indeed early education is the most cost-effective way to reduce poverty and foster economic growth. He said that it has also been shown that investments in early child education are more cost-effective than government intervention programs on adults. This simply means, he told, that by investing now in our children we save more resources.

According to Nobel Laureate James Heckman, for the same level of investment at each age, the return is higher in human capital when a dollar is spent on the young than when it is spent on the old. The explanation is remarkably simple - learning begets learning and skills acquired early on make later learning easier.

In Canada, every dollar spent on pre-school has saved government $7 in special programs and services by the time the child is a young adult and $13 benefit by the he is a mature adult. All in all, a high-quality, public child-care system for 2 to 5 year-olds proved to be worth more than four billion dollars a year to Canada. While in the US, a 2007 study showed that providing voluntary, high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten education for the poorest twenty-five percent of three- and four-year-old children impacts everything from the annual budget to crime prevention. By 2050, the overall benefits are expected to total $315 billion.

"These are facts that underscore the significance of our gathering today," Angara told the educators. "Your work has the greatest potential to shape our country's future. As early childhood experts, you are, without a doubt, serving the future itself - the children. I ask you now to continue to lead. As one who hailed from humble beginnings himself, I know what good comes from the kind of work you do. Please continue to make sure that the same opportunity is given to those who were like me," he added.

Angara filed in the Senate the Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP, which is a healthcare system specifically designed for children. He said that illness takes children away from classrooms and CHIP works to prevent this.

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