A study that provides a learning assessment of children enrolled in Grade 5 across six countries in Southeast Asia (including the Philippines) shows that preschool can make a huge difference in a child’s education five years later.
Parents in the 2019 SEA-PLM were from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Viet Nam.
The advantage of preschool education
In the Philippines, about 50% of participating parents of Grade 5 children reported their kids went to preschool for two years, and about 40% did it for a year. Malaysia and Viet Nam had the most number of students attending preschool for two years among all countries.
According to the 2019 SEA-PLM report, “In reading, writing, and mathematics, children who attended preschool had, on average, higher scores compared with those who had not attended. Across countries, that difference ranged from 5 to 14 scale points.
“Although the influence of preschool attendance on achievement is expected to attenuate over time, this finding shows that a large positive effect still exists even five years into schooling across all countries and domains. This emphasizes the disadvantage for those children who are unable to attend preschool.”
The report added the results “highlights the need for an alternative strategy to support home and community-based early childhood education.”
Early language and mathematical tasks
The study illustrated how preschool learning was influential in children’s current achievement levels at Grade 5. Parents were asked which language and mathematical tasks their children could perform before attending primary school.
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The percentage of Grade 5 children whose parents declared their child could perform more than 10 of the early language and mathematical tasks was 80% for the Philippines.
On average, kids who accomplished 10 or more tasks showed “higher learning achievement” in Grade 5 for reading, writing, and mathematical literacy.
If a child cannot develop his language and mathematical capacity in preschool or at home, the study underlined the need to provide him support in the “early grades” to reduce learning gaps.
The report continued, “Those early skills are still the source of differences between children, even 5 years after entering primary education.”
SEA-PLM Assessment is a program launched by the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.