As countries invest in early childhood education, data become essential for making effective decisions and setting strategic priorities. Obtaining good data on the quality of pre-primary education has been a big challenge around the world. A 2017 GPE review of 48 education sector plans (ESPs) showed that nearly all plans included basic data on access rates to pre-primary education. However, only 6 plans provided data on the quality of the pre-primary learning environment or student learning outcomes. This revealed a persistent problem regarding the availability of data.
Countries haven’t had access to these data for many reasons including: data are expensive to collect, and sometimes are project-based (and therefore are either collected only once or are not nationally representative). Additionally, it may be difficult to find data collection instruments on the classroom environment or child development outcomes that are appropriate for the context and the capacity required to collect and analyze data is substantial.
Improving data for pre-primary education
With the addition of Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) and other tools, data on pre-primary education is becoming easier to obtain. The MELQO project was launched in 2014 in anticipation of a new global emphasis on early childhood development and was convened by UNESCO, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution and UNICEF.
With the support of a large consortium of experts and stakeholders, the MELQO tools were created to provide country-level evidence on child development and learning. This was in response to countries demanding more national data, and to help improve global monitoring. To date, the MELQO tools have been implemented in over 30 countries.