This blog is part of a series on GPE’s initiative on early childhood education: BELDS (Better Early Learning and Development at Scale). The blog explains how the BELDS approach works through the experience in Lesotho, one of the four pilot countries.
Every day, 53,0001 young children, from toddlers to age 5 years, attend pre-school in Lesotho. They learn the alphabet, numbers, and shapes and how to play with other children. Under the supervision of teachers and caregivers, the children are eager to come to school and learn and play together in a safe, stimulating environment.
But not all children are so lucky. Nearly 6 in 10 children aged 3–5 years receive no pre-school education with enrolment rates as low as 4 percent in remote and mountainous highland districts. These children lag behind their peers from the start of Grade 1 and often do not catch up.
Too many children don’t attend preschool
Globally, more than half of young children, or 175 million boys and girls, are not enrolled in pre-primary education, missing a critical step in preparing for school and lifelong learning.
By contrast, children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school, less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, and therefore more able to fulfil their potential and contribute to peaceful and prosperous societies when they reach adulthood2.
Pre-primary education provides the highest return on investment of all the education sub-sectors3. Yet it is often an under-funded sector. In Lesotho for example, the pre-primary sub-sector receives the smallest budget allocation from the national education budget, less than 1% of the national education budget for the last 10 years.