Early Childhood Care and Education

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is one of the best investments a country can make to prepare children for learning and allow them to thrive later in life.

Worldwide, there are still more than 150 million children ages 3 to 5 who do not have access to pre-primary education, including more than 80% of children in low-income countries.

Children who benefit from quality early childhood education programs are better prepared for primary school and will reach better education outcomes. Quality ECCE also helps reduce repetition and drop-out rates. Positive outcomes are even more pronounced among children from vulnerable groups.

In the past decade, all regions of the world have increased enrollments in pre-primary education but too many children are still left out.

GPE 2020, the partnership's roadmap for 2016-2020, commits all GPE partners to improving the quality and supply of ECCE services, especially for the most vulnerable children. Within the GPE results framework, two indicators highlight the impact GPE seeks to achieve in ECCE.

GPE improves the quality and availability of early education, especially for children most often left behind

Our results

  • US$180 million invested by GPE to support ECCE in more than 30 partner countries

  • All partner countries requesting GPE financial support (36 countries/provinces) have included ECCE in their education sector plans

  • 28% gross enrollment ratio in pre-primary education in GPE partner countries in 2014 compared to 16.8% in 2002

  • 90% of GPE grants that include an ECCE component provide financial and technical support to strengthen the role of pre-primary teachers


GPE in action

GPE is committed to do more to help developing country partners improve access, quality and learning outcomes in the early years. More specifically, GPE:

Supports ECCE sector planning, analysis, and exchange of good practice: One of the considerations for endorsing an education sector plan by development partners is that the plan includes an ECCE component. GPE has also designed a roadmap to support the mainstreaming of an ECCE component into education sector plans by developing guidelines together with the UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning and companion guidelines on education sector analysis jointly with UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

In addition, GPE supports partners to share knowledge and evidence-based practices to overcome ECCE challenges through technical workshops, peer-learning events and conferences.

Mobilizes and delivers domestic and international financial resources: Through its grants, GPE supports improved financing to ECCE in partner developing countries and promotes domestic and international investments in ECCE across the partnership. ECCE components in GPE grants range from US$1 million to more than US$20 million.

Expands ECCE enrollment: GPE supports partner developing countries' initiatives to launch new laws, policies, public awareness campaigns and financial incentives to increase the number of children in pre-primary education.

Promotes quality learning in ECCE: GPE supports quality ECCE programs including system level investments in management and planning; policy guidelines and service standards; training pre-primary teachers and facilitators; building and rehabilitating classrooms; establishing early learning assessment systems; distributing learning materials; and supporting parent education and community-based early learning programs.

Supports ECCE in countries affected by fragility and conflict: GPE prioritizes helping children whose learning has been compromised because of fragility and conflict and aims to ensure practical solutions in these settings.

In addition, through the better early learning and development at scale (BELDS) initiative, GPE will build knowledge and foster good practice exchange on how to strengthen ECCE within national education systems.


According to a recent report published by Theirworld, only 1% of aid for children under five goes to education, putting millions of children at a disadvantage before they even start primary school.
Find out how BELDS, a new initiative on early learning by the GPE Secretariat, will help fill the knowledge and practice gap to improve early childhood care and education in partner countries.
The Gambia received US$35 million from GPE and the World Bank to increase access to early childhood education, basic education, and koranic centers. The grant will also help improving teacher...
In 2013, Lalao opened her village's first community school. She welcomed 65 students in an old house with a brick floor and desks made of wooden planks.
Learn more about what GPE is doing to help developing country partners improve access, quality, and learning outcomes in the early years.
GPE encourages countries to ensure that children under the age of 5 develop according to their age, and to increase pre-primary enrollment.