Abundance of evidence highlights that providing quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) is fundamental to children’s life-long success. This evidence was one impetus to create Target 4.2 within SDG 4: “By 2030, ensure all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.
Investing in ECCE is important to achieve SDG 4
The Third Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education in June 2018 adopted the Kathmandu Statement of Action to accelerate the progress toward SDG 4.2.
The statement identified increasing investment in ECCE as a priority action and suggested to come up with innovative modality for financing ECCE.
As reiterated by the global and regional commitments to achieve Target 4.2, adequate finance for quality ECCE programs is one of the most effective investments a country can make to address inequity, break the cycle of poverty and improve socio-economic outcomes later in life. ECCE therefore can act as a powerful equalizer.
ECCE is chronically underfunded
Despite these arguments, ECCE remains a chronically underfunded sub-sector in the Asia-Pacific region. The figure below shows that spending on pre-primary education as a percentage of total government expenditure was below 10% in the region and has not increased much in most countries.