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Kindergarten In The Philippines, Is It Mandatory?

Let’s take a closer look at the law that made Kindergarten mandatory (and some history, too!)
PHOTO BYpexels/naomi shi

“Kindergartens are places where children develop their abilities, talents and skills from their earliest age. Every child has the right to realise their full potential, regardless of where they grow up,” says UNICEF. 

But the opportunity and access to our children’s right to early education, is it for all?

The Kindergarten Education Act

Republic Act 10157, also known as the “Kindergarten Education Act,” institutionalizes Kindergarten Education to be part of basic education and “shall be made mandatory and compulsory for entrance to Grade 1.” 

According to Section 6 of The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, Kindergarten Education is the first stage of compulsory and mandatory formal education. This should consist of one (1) year of preparatory education for children who are at least five (5) years old

Children who may be turning 5 at the end of August may also be considered on the condition that the learner is capable of meeting the expectations of the said grade level, through the administration of the Philippine Early Childhood Development (ECD) Checklist.

According to the Department of Education (DepEd), age 5 is within “the critical years where positive experiences must be nurtured to ascertain school readiness.” It is also cited that this stage is when self-esteem, vision of the world, and moral foundations are formed. 

An extension may be granted in a situation where a school commences their school year in July, then Kindergarten learners should be five (5) years old by July 1 and it extends to September 30.

For schools commencing their school year in August, Kindergarten learners should be five (5) years old by August 1 and the extension period shall be until October 31.

Learning and Development materials

The Kindergarten Education Act specifies the learning and development materials to include the following:

  • Listening story
  • Small books
  • Big books
  • Experience story
  • Primer lessons
  • Lessons exemplars

According to DepEd, young learners should be guided and provided with play-based activities where children will be able to understand, explore, create, and discover in preparation to handling formal school works. 

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DepEd offers free public Kindergarten education to provide equal opportunities for all.

What is needed to enroll in Kindergarten?

Basic requirements to enroll in a public school 

  • Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) birth certificate 
  • Affidavit of Identity certified by the barangay (if birth certificate is not available) 
  • Copy of Philippine ECD record (if the enrollee attended pre-Kindergarten in Day Care or Child Development Centers)

The ECD checklist/record is an assessment tool to determine the child’s growth and development. There is no “pass or fail” in an ECD assessment. Such report “shall serve as initial assessment of the child as one of the bases in planning and implementing appropriate interventions for Kindergarten learners, monitor progress, and refer learners at risk of developmental delays for further assessment by a specialist and/or provision of specialized intervention/s.”

Developmental Domains

Seven domains in the Kindergarten Curriculum

  1. Language, Literacy, and Communication (Wika, Karunungan sa Pagbasa at Pagsulat)
  2. Socio-Emotional Development (Pagpapaunlad ng Sosyo-Emosyunal at Kakayahang Makipamuhay)
  3. Values Development (Kagandahang Asal) 
  4. Physical Health and Motor Development (Kalusugang Pisikal at Pagpapaunlad sa Kakayahang Motor) 
  5. Aesthetic/Creative Development (Sining) 
  6. Mathematics (Matematika) 
  7. Understanding of the Physical and Natural Environment (Pag-unawa sa Pisikal at Natural na Kapaligiran

History of Kindergarten

In 1837, Friedrich Froebel, a German reformer and educator, opened the first Kindergarten in Blankenburg, Germany. He developed his philosophy on the ideas of Swiss social reformer and educator, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who followed Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s belief in the inherent goodness of children.

Froebel’s principles were anchored on unity and connectedness, autonomy, creativity, value for childhood and relationships, engaging with nature, play as center, and knowledgeable and nurturing educators. 

Kindergarten comes from German words “kinder” and “garten” which means “children” and “garden”.

He originally called the infant school as Child Nurture and Activity Institute, and which he later renamed to Kindergarten, or “garden of children.” It was believed that children should be nourished and nurtured like plants in a garden.

His most significant contribution to educational theory was his belief in “self-activity” and play. He believes that self-expression through play, both as an individual or within a group, is an essential factor in child education. The teacher’s role was not to drill or indoctrinate the children but to stimulate learning through play, songs, and music with the aid of “gifts” or “occupations” (circles, spheres, and other toys). Early childhood education has also been formed and developed in other parts of the globe, including the one built by Maria Montessori.

Early Childhood Education in the Philippines

In 1940, the Bureau of Private Schools authorized the establishment of 129 kindergartens. This was disrupted, however, by the second World War. Only in 1945 was when 61 schools resumed operation—out of the original 129 government recognized Kindergarten schools in 1940.

In the 1950s, preschool education started in the government-regional training schools through the efforts of Dr. Miguela M. Solis (Bureau of Public schools). In 1956, play centers were introduced by the Manila health centers.  

In 1989, the Department of Education Culture and Sports, now DepEd, issued (DECS) order 107, also known as “Standards for the Organization and Operation of Preschools (Kindergarten Level),” which established the curriculum, staff requirements, and physical environment for preschool. 

Currently, we are enforcing the Kindergarten Education Act. Moving forward, DepEd memorandum No. 054 will implement “Matatag Curriculum” in phases: Kindergarten included for academic year 2024-2025.

According to DepEd's general shaping paper, the redesigned Kindergarten curriculum aims to produce active young Filipino learners who are holistically developed and equipped with 21st century skills.

This enhanced curriculum “espouses a learner-centered, learning centered, integrated, developmentally appropriate, play-based, and nationalistic curriculum that aims to develop holistic learners equipped with foundational skills, imbued with physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and values development.”

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