Early Childhood Care and Education
40% of children in the developing world live in extreme poverty and 10.5 million children under 5 die from preventable disease each year. Investing in quality Early Childhood Care and Education can improve their well-being and close the education and poverty gap.
Early childhood is defined as the period from birth to 8 years old. Quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) helps children develop their potential and promotes their social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Young children, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged, who benefit from ECCE services are more likely to be healthy, ready to learn, and stay longer and perform better in school.
Progress on improving access to ECCE has been strong in the last decade. In 2009, 46% of the world’s children were enrolled in pre-primary education compared to 33% in 1999. In South and West Asia enrolment more than doubled and shot up to 26 million. Child mortality rates have declined from 12 million deaths in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010.
The worldwide increased participation in pre-primary education is encouraging but is still limited and unequal in developing countries, especially for the most disadvantaged children. Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab states showed the lowest gross enrollment ratios- 18% and 21% respectively in 2009. In some countries, children from privileged background are four times more likely to receive pre primary education than poor children.
The main challenge for implementing ECCE programs in developing countries is reaching the poorest populations through effective and targeted interventions.
Other significant obstacles to the expansion of ECCE services include:
In addition, the quality of the ECCE services is often less than adequate. In many sub-Saharan countries, the quality of infrastructure, teaching-learning materials, and ECCE curricula are often very poor and not well adapted to the needs of children. Qualified teachers and educators are also scarce.
We ensure that more children in developing countries have access to affordable and good quality ECCE services through:
Mobilizing the political will of partners to expand ECCE opportunities: GPE has a mandate to accomplish ECCE and 24 of our partner countries pledged to support ECCE at the GPE Replenishment Conference in November 2011. These commitments will create an enabling environment for children to begin learning at an early age.
Technical support and knowledge sharing: GPE plays a leadership role by disseminating best practices among its partner countries on how to develop effective, alternative and high quality ECCE programs for all children including the poorest.