More than ten million children under the age of five die each year. (See The World Health Report 2005, at http://www.who.int/whr/2005/whr2005_en.pdf.) 29,000 children under the age of five die each day – i.e., about 21 each minute – from preventable causes. (See Goal: Reduce Child Mortality, at http://www.unicef.org/mdg/childmortality.html.) The numbers are staggering. In light of this reality, the significance of the newly-enacted Republic Act No. 10410, or “Early Years Act of 2013”, cannot be underestimated.
As its long name states, the Early Years Act is a law recognizing the age from zero to eight years as the first crucial stage of educational development, and strengthening the country’s early childhood care and development system. It was signed into law on March 26, 2013 and became effective on April 18, 2013. The Early Years Act seeks to promote the rights of children to survival, development and special protection, with full recognition of the nature of childhood. For this purpose, the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council was established to implement a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (“ECCD System”) that is comprehensive and multi-sectoral in approach. The ECCD Council is mandated to ensure the building of a strong foundation for development and learning of children from zero to four years, as well as support a full range of health, nutrition and social development programs for the child’s holistic development. The responsibility of ensuring the full development of children in their formative years, i.e. from five to eight years of age, is vested in the Department of Education (Sec. 2).