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What is Early Childhood Education in the Philippines and Why Your Child Needs It

Last updated: April 12, 2024

Key takeaways:

  • Early childhood education helps children socialize and adapt to the future learning process. 
  • ECE is provided to children aged 3 to 4 and is not mandatory in the Philippines.
  • The ECCD Council establishes preschools, National Child Care centers and home-based programs for children. 
  • ECE bachelor programs can be partly or fully funded by scholarship programs.
  • Digido emits online loans for all purposes including private preschool fees or ECE bachelor tuition payment.
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Early childhood education courses in the philippines

When placed in an unknown and seemingly hostile environment such as school, a young child might feel stressed, peer pressured and may not cope well. To help a child get accustomed to a new situation, there is a transitional period in the educational hierarchy between a family life and a basic secondary education. Early childhood education (ECE) in the Philippines is aimed at helping children from 3 to 4 years develop a wide range of skills necessary for the further education process: processing information, talking, reading, communicating, and expressing themselves in different ways.

The system includes preschool programs and precedes the mandatory kindergarten stage. In this article we will explore various facets of early childhood education in the Philippines: its advantages in helping children, institutional hierarchy, regulatory framework, available private and public programs for training the future educators.

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What is the Early Childhood Care and Education System in the Philippines

Early childhood education is a part of the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCD) System. This system covers education, health, welfare, and nutrition programs for children aged from 0 to 6. It acts through preschools, National Child Care centers and home-based initiatives.

There are 4 main state departments enacting the Early Childhood Care and Education System in the Philippines: The Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education, and The ECCD Council. We have summarized the functions of these departments within the ECCD system in the table below.

Name  Department of Health (DOH) Department of Social Welfare and Development  Department of Education  ECCD Council 
  • Addresses health needs of kids and their mothers
  • Manages nutrition programmes
  • Performs the annual weight and height measurements of children under the age of 5
  • Provides supplementary feeding 5 days a week in child development facilities
  • Builds and maintains child care centers and nurseries 
  • Monitors the quality of daycare centers
  • Finances the supplementary feeding programme
  • Manages family development and parent education sessions 
  • Provides access to free kindergartens all over the country
  • Sets guidelines for Kindergartens
  • Forms kindergarten curriculum framework
  • Builds national development centers
  • Creates guidelines for the center-based early childhood programs for 0 to 4 year-old Filipino children 
  • Arranges trainings and seminars for childcare workers
  • Assists in designing education programs
  • Cooperates with local government units in opening new preschools 
Kids’ Age within ECCD 0 to 5 y.o. 0 to 4 y.o. 5 y.o. 3 to 4 y.o.
Public facilities  DOH regional offices Day care centers, child minding centers, supervised neighborhood play, regional offices Kindergartens  Preschools, National Child Development Centers (NCDC)

The Philippine Republic Act 8980: Early Childhood Care and Development Act

The Early Childhood Care and Development System was officially established by the Philippine Republic Act 8980 in 2000 (6). It was signed by the former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The document defined the standards of childcare services in the country and declared the rights of children with a complex support from the government.

According to the Philippine Republic Act 8980, the ECCD system should advocate childrens’ equality in health, nutrition, early education, social skills development, and provide a safe environment for their upbringing. The document lays the foundation for early childhood and development programs in local communities and child care centers of the Philippines. The act also includes a commitment to finance the enacting process of the ECCD policy and framework.

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What is the ECCD Council?

The leading state agency responsible for developing a comprehensive early childhood education system in the Philippines is the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council. It is linked to the Department of Education and financed by both private and public funds (7).

The ECCD Council transforms childcare centers into child development centers by certifying workers, hiring qualified teachers, providing them with official learning plans and programs. Additionally, parents can apply to the Council if they are searching for a preschool or a childcare center in their area that is available for enrollment.

The Early Childhood Care and Development Council has established numerous national and local child development facilities. According to the Department of Education, there are more than 50 thousand public and private ECCD centers in the Philippines. However, according to the Childcare Investments in the Philippines research by UNRISD, these numbers did not meet the demand in the country. The lacking childcare centers in the Philippines were partly replaced by other forms of early education courses such as the mobile Kindergarten-on-Wheels (KOW) or the home-based Supervised Neighborhood Play.

The ECCD Council still has a lot of work ahead, as around 78% of 3 to 4 year olds are not attending preschools or daycare centers due to their absence in the neighborhood and limited opening hours (8).

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Advantages of Early Childhood Education in the Philippines

The principle of early childhood education is rooted in the belief that children’s natural activity is play. Starting from a young age, kids learn to read, count, broaden their vocabulary, express themselves and think logically through play. Teachers of early childhood education carefully focus on a child’s psychological growth and social abilities.

Early childhood education includes preparatory school or preschool for children aged 3 to 4, and it is not mandatory. By reaching the age of 5, kids are supposed to go to kindergarten. The Kindergarten Act of 2012 made it the first compulsory level of schooling (2).

Studying in a preschool has a prolonged positive impact on a child’s further academic performance in basic subjects. According to the research,conducted by UNICEF, children who attended preschool programs had a higher score in literacy, math and social skills at school than those who did not (1).

Preschool attendance Literacy Math  Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making
Yes 697 702 515
No 672 671 486

Early childhood education philippines

Private Early Childcare Education Programs

Starting from the age of 3, children are admitted to state-funded preschools, while many private preschool programs are open to enroll children from one year old. Here are the main types of paid early education programs and their curriculum highlights.

Program type Age  Curriculum examples
Nursery  From 1 y.o. Feeding and group activities: arts, exercises, watching movies or cartoons

The day care provides parents with access to 24/7 cameras through a mobile app and sends them daily reports.

Toddler  2 to 3 y.o.  Learning through group activities and songs, assembling puzzles, practicing yoga for kids, counting, doing the Practical Life Exercises (PLE): dressing up, holding spoon and fork, brushing teeth, etc.
Preschool  3 to 4 y.o.  Learning to read and write, developing social skills, preparing for schooling 

Preschool programs are highly in demand as they provide an opportunity to prepare children for the fundamental school subjects and to customize the curriculum according to children’s individual interests. On the other hand, these customized programs remain pricey. We have selected three international preschool education programs in Manila to give you a reference on what the tuition fees are for the school year 2024-2025.

Preschool Institution  Infant program  Toddler Program  Preschool Program 
The Learning Tree Child Growth Centre (3) $ 1457/month (PHP 80,644) $ 1435/month (PHP 79,440) $ 1435/month (PHP 79,440)
Nord Anglia International School Manila (4) PHP 455,734  PHP 484, 834  PHP 956,184
Wesleyan College of Manila (5) No program PHP 40,000 PHP 47,800

Note that private schools charge extra fees for application, books and uniform, facility upgrades and extra classes such as music and foreign languages on top of tuition payments.

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The Early Childhood Education Specialists in the Philippines

There are two Early Childhood Education minimum qualifications in the country: child development teachers (CDTs) and child development workers (CDWs). A CDT is supposed to have a bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education or Elementary Education. CDWs are required to complete basic education only. Here are the salary rates of both CDTs and CDWs in 2023 (9)

Position  Child development teachers  Child development workers 
Average salary  PHP 347,232 PHP 204,924
Highest annual salary  PHP 408,345 PHP 234,228

According to the survey conducted by the ECCD Council, only 49% of childcare workers in the Philippines have a bachelor’s degree. The rest of them are school graduates (17).

Early childhood education curriculum in the philippines

The Early Childhood Education Programs in the Philippines

A typical university program in early childhood education lasts for 4 years. There are also official short courses available to become a specialist in the field.

The National Free Tuition Act provides an exemption for Filipino students enrolled in public colleges, universities, and secondary institutions from paying tuition fees. However, they must pay additional fees for admission, exams and other services.

This regulation isn’t applicable to private colleges and universities. Here are some of the bachelor courses and their conditions.


University University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Education (10) De La Salle University, College of Education (11) University of Santo Tomas (12 De La Salle University, College of Education (13)
Course  Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (BEED) Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (BECEd) Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (BSECE) Online Certificate in Teaching Early Childhood Learners
Program Duration 4 years  4 years  4 years 8 weeks
Curriculum The key discipline of the course is child psychology, with optional subjects of play therapy, child health and nutrition, rights, etc. The program is designed for early school education and care specialists for kids of different ages from 0 up to 8 The course is centered around play practices, education programs management, school culture, family and school partnerships The course is designed to help people from non-educational environment to get a taste of teaching through seminars on the current teaching approaches and practices
Who may enroll School graduates School graduates School graduates No special requirements
Tuition fee  Free Free  Free  PHP 4,900 (to register)
How to apply  Online Online  Online  Online

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Scholarships for the Early Childhood Education Courses in the Philippines

The shortage of qualified teachers in the Philippines is evident, especially in regional child care centers. Filipino citizens unable to pay the full tuition cost are encouraged to still pursue the profession through a number of scholarships:

Scholarship program  Amount  Eligibility
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Scholarship Program (14) PHP 15,000 to PHP 30,000 per semester  Filipino school graduates with an annual personal/ family income not exceeding PHP 400,000.
Tulong Dunong Scholarship Program (15) PHP 15,000 per academic year or free college course   Filipino students with low family income
Ayala Foundation’s U-Go Scholar  program (16) Discounted tuition fee Young women from disadvantaged communities aspiring to pursue a higher degree

To apply for a tuition discount, students must fill out an online form. The committee will then verify all details provided by the applicant. Based on this information, they will make a final decision on the scholarship.

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Early childhood education for children aged 3 to 4 years plays a significant role in helping them develop everyday habits, self and social awareness, basic skills of reading, writing, counting, creativity, and logical thinking. Hence, the demand for the preschool programs is extremely high. Despite numerous national and local child development facilities established by the ECCD Council, there is still a shortage of child care institutions and professionals in the Philippines.

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  • What is the difference between early childhood education and basic education in the Philippines?
    Early childhood education is provided for children under the age of 5 and is not compulsory. Basic education is regarded as mandatory and is for children over 5 years.
  • What does the early childhood education curriculum include?
    Its primary focus is on developing communication and decision making skills, as well as reading, counting, spatial thinking through exercises and playing.
  • What is the age range for the Philippines early childhood education programs eligibility?
    ECE programs are designed for 3 to 4 year-olds.
  • What institutions provide early childhood education in the Philippines?
    They are the Department of Welfare and Social Development and the ECCD Council.
  • What much time does the bachelor early childhood education course program span?
    You can get a bachelor degree in early childhood education in 4 years.
Disclaimer and Editor’s note


Digido Financial Writers Team is a team of experts in the field of finance and credit, specializing in writing articles for Digido blogs.
Anatolii Sibrenko
Author pages:
Anatolii Sibrenko is the former Head of Product Marketing at Digido, where he orchestrated the marketing dynamics from August 2021 until January 2024.

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