This blog has been previously published on the KIX's website.
A large body of research affirms that exposure to enabling environments in the early years of a child’s life is critical. This period, globally defined as 0-8 years, is a foundation on which lifelong learning, both in school and life is built.
The importance of understanding learning in the early years
Research in neuroscience provides strong evidence that brain development is most rapid in the earliest years of life. 90% of the brain’s growth has already occurred by the time a child is 6 years old.
Research also shows that what children learn in their first few years of life—and how they learn it—can have long-lasting effects on their future. The gaps in foundational learning emerge as early as age 3 to 4, and continue to manifest once children enter school.
Understanding the process of learning in the early years enables educators to provide appropriate support and care to young children. This investment yields social and economic benefits, better child wellbeing, more equitable outcomes, poverty reduction and increased inter-generational social mobility.
To generate new evidence and insights about learning in the early years, the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network is partnering with the Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) to scale up a common assessment of early and foundational learning across the Global South.
Measuring learning in the early years: siloed solutions so far
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) framework explicitly addresses learning in the early years. However, there are persistent silos between pre-school years and early primary grades.
In many cases there are separate departments, policies, programs and frameworks for children in pre-schools and early primary grades. This can also be evidenced in existing international, regional and national assessments that separately focus either on the pre-school years (MELQO, IDELA, etc.) or primary (and secondary) grades (TIMSS, PiRLS, PASEC, PILNA, etc.).