Building peace in the minds of men and women

A world ready to learn: Joint call for quality early childhood education for all

14 January 2019

“A child’s most important steps happen before they set foot in a primary school. By their fifth birthday, children’s brains are 90% developed and the foundations for success at school and in later life are in place”, says a joint UNICEF-OECD-UNESCO blog.

But globally 50% of preschool age children miss out on pre-primary education opportunities, which could impact a child’s life and learning in the long-term.

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) lays strong foundations for lifelong learning, enhancing children’s readiness for primary schooling and setting in motion a positive cycle of development in their lives. As learning gaps begin to grow before the time of primary school entry, ensuring quality ECCE for disadvantaged children is particularly important.

Quality ECCE is an indispensable ingredient to realize the vision of “leaving no-one behind”. This was the message shared at the Global Education Meeting, held in Brussels, Belgium, in December 2018. UNESCO joined hands with OECD and UNICEF in bringing together experts and practitioners to highlight the vital importance of quality ECCE for all in the Sustainable Development Goal 4-Education 2030 agenda.

This joint endeavour addressed the challenges of equitable access, quality and financing of early childhood education – confronting both North and South – and featured how Colombia, Estonia and Mongolia concretely tackled these challenges.

How can we deliver on a universal quality pre-primary education? Read the joint UNICEF-OECD-UNESCO blog signed by Jo Bourne, Andreas Schleicher and Jordan Naidoo, to learn about concrete actions that can be taken to provide all children around the world, ready to learn, the access to quality ECCE they deserve.

UNESCO supports Member States in achieving SDG target 4.2 on ECCE through evidence-based advocacy, knowledge generation and sharing, capacity development and partnerships building.

In particular, UNESCO is currently developing an international ECCE personnel survey tool called STEPP (Survey of Teachers in Pre-primary Education), in cooperation with OECD, for low- and middle-income countries, to promote evidence-based policy development in ECCE.

UNESCO Bangkok has just published the ECCE Teacher Competency Framework for Pacific Small Island Developing States to support quality early learning. IIEP-UNESCO, UNICEF and Global Partnership for Education are collaborating to develop a MOOC on integrating ECCE in education sector planning, to be launched later in 2019, to assist with capacity building in this area.

"We must place quality pre-primary education at the heart of education plans and policies across countries", concludes the joint blog.