São Tomé and Príncipe is one of few countries in West and Central Africa that has taken the leap to prioritize two years of quality preschool for its young children.
This bold move builds on the country’s significant progress in increasing access to early childhood education (ECE) over the past years. The net preschool attendance rate increased from 66.4% in the 2016-2017 school year to 78.6% in 2017-2018, while the country is still striving for equity and improved quality.
São Tomé and Príncipe’s participation in the Better Early Learning and Development at Scale (BELDS) initiative, supported by GPE and UNICEF, came at a crucial moment of favorable political context and education sector planning cycle, which enabled greater advocacy for ECE.
The update of the Education Policy Charter and the development of the accompanying 5-year strategic action plan (2019-2023) provided the opportunity to bring together the country’s ECE stakeholders and partners (including the World Bank, civil society and religious institutions, education community, kindergarten and preschool directors) to jointly define and articulate the country’s vision and strategies for delivering two years of quality ECE for every child.