Vernor Munoz Global Education Advisor Plan International Dr. Melanie Swan Global Early Childhood Development Advisor Plan International Sven Coppens China Country Director Plan International Nick Walden Global Learning Advisor Plan International Most of all, we want to hear what you think….
Objectives of today’s webinar • Discuss how children learn and develop during early childhood, and the importance of early learning and education for the development, health and wellbeing of girls and boys, throughout the life-course. • Discuss the human rights frameworks that enshrine young children’s rights to access quality early learning and education opportunities and services. • Analyze (briefly!) the extent to which young children’s rights to early learning and education are guaranteed in the regions in which we work. • Review some of the drivers that explain why – both internally and externally – the rights to early learning and pre-primary education do not receive the attention they deserve, compared to other educational levels. • Identify issues for ongoing discussion.
The problem is vast: an overview in numbers • One Third of Children in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Fail to Reach Developmental Milestones in cognitive and/or socio-emotional growth: in some countries, as many as 2 in 3 children fail to reach expected cognitive and/or socio-emotional development. • 80.8 million of the roughly 240 million preschool-aged children in the world’s 132 low- and middle-income countries fail to develop a core set of age-appropriate skills that allow them to maintain attention, understand and follow simple directions, communicate and get along with others, control aggression, and solve progressively complex problems. • Among 3 and 4 year olds in low- and middle-income countries, the problem is most acute in sub-Saharan Africa (29.4 million children not reaching developmental milestones; 44% of all 3 or 4 year olds), followed by South Asia (27.7 million; 38%) and the East Asia and Pacific region (15.1 million; 26%). A significant burden is also notable in Latin America/Caribbean (4.1 million, 19%) and North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia (4.5 million, 18%). • Low development scores are associated with stunting, poverty, gender, rural residence and lack of cognitive stimulation.
What is the defining stage in a child’s life where learning emerges?
Why are early learning, early stimulation and education so important? • Children’s brains need affection, stimulation, and meaningful interaction – language, touch, eye contact, exploration and play - to successfully decipher and classify objects, identify language patterns, make themselves understood, develop relationships based on trust and learn. • This care, early stimulation and interaction is needed in the earliest years - birth to 3 years: by the time the child reaches pre-school age it is too late to start. • Nutrition is key for brain building. • As the brain becomes more specialized to assume more complex functions, it becomes less plastic and adaptable and the brain circuits formed become increasingly difficult to alter As an example, after just a year the brain starts to lose the ability to recognize different sounds found in languages other than the language(s) used in the home. • Delays are more difficult and more costly to reverse after the age of three. • Play and early stimulation key for learning and well-being, including a child’s emerging agency and ability to make choices.
Why are early learning, early stimulation and education so important? • Tackling inequality • Gender socialization • Protection
“Who is who” in the provision of early learning Parents and caregivers Family Peers Professionals: health workers, social workers, teachers, etc. Institutions Society at large Teachers alone are not the only facilitators of a child’s learning, but supply institutionalized formal education. Only focusing on teachers is simply not enough.
What do International Human Rights Legal frameworks tell us about young children’s rights to early learning and education?
Every girl and boy – including the most marginalised – should have the opportunity to enjoy the right to education Early childhood education and the international human rights law Universal Declaration of Human Rights International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of the Child International political frameworks Jomtien Dakar Incheon UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The General Comments CESCR: General comment 13 and CRC General Comment 1 on the Right to Education • General Comment 7: the most detailed interpretation of the rights to ECD: • The right to education in early childhood begins at birth and is closely linked to young children’s right to maximum development • Parents (and other primary caregivers) are children’s first educators - States parties have obligations to support them in fulfilling this role. • All young children entitled to receive education in the broadest sense, which acknowledges a key role for parents, wider family and community, as well as the contribution of organized programs of early childhood education provided by the State, the community or civil society institutions. • The Committee does not prescribe compulsory and free early childhood education, but expressed its appreciation that some States Parties plan to make one year of preschool education available and free of all cost to children. Other CRC General Comments of note: 8, 12, 13, 15, 17
Early childhood right to education entails concrete State obligations Availability Financing Services Teachers Accessibility Progressive realisation Public policy
Early childhood right to education entails concrete State obligations Adaptability Curriculum adaptation Acceptability Socio-cultural perspectives Accountability Information and participation
To what extent are young children realizing their rights to early learning and education opportunities and services? • Despite improvements since 2000, coverage of early and pre-primary education is lower than any other educational level: • The global pre-primary gross enrolment ratio (GER) increased from 27% in 1990 to 54% in 2012. • Global GER skewed upwards by small number countries: 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa • In many countries less than 10% of girls and boys attend some form of early learning/education program
Availability • Low investment in preschool education: • OECD countries invest 0.49% of GNP • 27 Sub-Sahara African countries invested only 0.01% GNP in 2012 (and most LMICs < 0.2%) • Spending on pre-primary education as percentage of total government expenditure on education (2012): • 4.9 % globally, 0.3% in sub-Saharan Africa. • By 2014, only 40 countries had instituted compulsory pre-primary education • Formal public pre-school provision often limited to one year prior to entering primary school, with a focus on primary school readiness. • Coverage of ECE services for under threes is usually extremely limited. • Pre-primary programs usually heavily concentrated in urban areas. • High Pupil:teacherratios (up to 30:1) – lack of teachers for rural areas. • Enrolment in private pre-primary institutions rising and 31% in 2012: higher than both the primary and secondary levels.
Accessibility • Economic accessibility an issue: • Most countries rely on a mix of public funds and household contributions to finance preschool. • In countries in all regions bar South Asia, children from the richest households are 2 – 10 times more likely to be enrolled in preprimary school than children from the poorest. • Children with a disability have even less access to early learning/pre-schooling • Absence significant gendered gaps in pre-primary enrollment at global and national levels. However! • Too few GIRLS AND BOYS have access to early learning/education in LMICs • The limited data availability suggests that in some countries there are gendered gaps in rural, low income populations, as well as son bias in terms of type of institution girls are sent to, extent to which their regular attendance supported • Gender disparities do exist in terms of percentages of children that are out of primary school – and of these children, the percentages of girls that will never enroll in and attend a single day of school are higher than the percentage of boys.
Adaptability and Acceptability • Limited information available about access to Mother Tongue Education in pre-schools: however, estimated that over 220 million children start primary every year unable to speak the formal language of instruction • ECE/pre-school teachers usually less well-qualified, trained, remunerated, valued and supported - majority are women. • Multiple quality issues: infrastructure (space, hygiene, safety); curriculum and learning approach (sensitivity to culture, language and religion); inclusiveness; continuity teaching staff. • Plan’s assessment of ECD spaces and pre-schools in six countries showed that these are not gender-sensitive: rather the curriculum; play and reading materials and use of these; and teacher-child interactions tended to reinforce gender socialization processes, ultimately potentially contributing to gender discrimination.
Looking beyond formal education…. • Parents/primary caregivers are the first and most important teachers. • The first three years of life is the most important period of learning and development. • However: • Limited public provision of parenting education programs. • Limited public funding to community based early learning opportunities. • Virtually no access to daycare in most LMICs. • The window of opportunity afforded through engaging primary and community health workers in ECD is not being leveraged. • Countries where social protection floors are most needed have the lowest investments in social protection, including family and child benefits. 73% of the population without social protection coverage.
Threats and opportunities? • Donors have traditionally focused on primary education, and funding for sectoral programs. However: • Global Partnership for Education: renewed commitment to Early Childhood Care and Education • Target 4.2 included in Education 2030. • The new World Bank UNICEF action network for ECD: an opportunity to push for increased investment in ECE within the framework of comprehensive policy? • Usual and unusual donor prospects: Bilaterals (DFATD Australia, NORAD…), Corporates, Foundations (CIFF, Djokovic…), Multilaterals (the Banks…) • More innovative use of sectoral funding to support comprehensive ECD programming possible? • The Sustainable Development Goals: • Goals 2,3,4, 16 central to ECD - and ECD essential to the realization of many other goals. Target 4.2 – the first time a specific target for ECCD • Concern that SDG focus on primary school readiness and push for grade 2 assessment of literacy and numeracy will drive the ‘schoolification’ of pre-school, with emphasis on academic competencies and move away from play-based learning approaches • ECD and education metrics – what will be chosen and what these will drive?
Threats and opportunities? • Within Plan, countries have traditionally focused on primary education and increasingly - within BIAAG - on girl’s access to secondary: • Even so, 50% countries include early/pre-school education in CSPs (notably in ARO, RESA and ROA) and over 90% include parenting programs. • What will be the implications of Girls 2030, with its focus on the most important gaps and violations affecting girls?
Some conclusions? • Learning and the right to education start at birth. • Even very young children are entitled to learning opportunities and early education, and there are specific State obligations in this regard. • The majority of girls and boys are being denied this right in the countries in which Plan works, with serious implications for later primary and secondary enrollment, completion and academic performance – and their development and wellbeing throughout life. • Gender-aware early learning and education opportunities can promote gender-equal socialization – with long term, positive implications for girls’ self-esteem, expectations and development. • Ensuring young girls’ and boys’ access to gender-aware early stimulation, learning and education needs to be firmly on our radar, even as we promote girl’s education and increased investment in secondary education.
References Vernor Muñoz (2012). Rights from the Start. Early Childhood Care and Education. Global Campaign for Education Plan (2016) Right to Early Childhood Development Impact Area Overview Plan International (2016). Realizing rights to survival, growth and development in the early years: a situational analysis Plan International (2016) Science of ECD briefing Plan International (2016).Unpacking the Rights to ECD Plan International (2016). ECD in the SDGs Plan Academy Webinar