Child-Friendly Local Governance
The small town of Alicia in Isabela province takes its children seriously.
The second-class municipality with a population of 26,000 has put the child at the center of its development program. Its Child-friendly Movement is being implemented under the banner “BATA”–acronym for a four-pronged strategy: Broadening awareness and institutionalize the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; Allocation of fund support for children welfare and protection; Total involvement and commitment through collective efforts of all key players; and Attainment of competitive performance through Child-friendly Governance.
The BATA program has earned the town various recognition as the “Most Child-friendly Municipality” at the provincial, regional and national levels from 2000 to 2002.
The success of the child-centered program did not come from government efforts alone. Active support and participation came from people’s organizations, non-government organizations, church groups, the private and business sectors, and the entire community.
Among the municipality’s specific projects are the “Piso Mo, Aral Ko”, “Barya Mo, Buhay Ko” and the “Balik-Aral Expansion Program” aimed at meeting the mandate for all school-aged children to be enrolled in public schools.
The town has a zero backlog in classroom requirement and has put up libraries and other reading centers. Its 34 barangays also take pride in having their own playground facilities.
Literacy level and the prevalence of school dropouts have since improved and Mayor Napoleon S. Dy claims that the general proficiency level of their children is about 80%.
Apart from education, the program has a holistic scheme that covers family planning through child spacing, construction of good-quality daycare centers, provision of medical and dental services, protection against abuse, curbing drug use, skills-training for out-of-school youth, and participation in community and government affairs.
To ensure the program’s sustainability and for Alicia to live up to its reputation as a child-friendly town, the municipal government passed ordinances for a five-and-25-year children investment plan. It also adopted the Isabela Provincial Children’s Code, and undertakes “continuing advocacy and capability-building”.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2003 Galing Pook Awards.