Human Capital Summit: Investing in the Early Years for Growth and Productivity

 

Investing in the early years is one of the smartest investments a country can make to break the cycle of poverty, address inequality, and boost productivity later in life. Today, millions of young children are not reaching their full potential because of inadequate nutrition, lack of early stimulation and learning, and exposure to stress. Investments in the physical, mental, and emotional development of children — from before birth until they enter primary school – are critical for the future productivity of individuals and for the economic competitiveness of nations. Country leaders need to  make commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition in children and expand access to early childhood development services by 2020 to ensure that children everywhere can thrive.

Even this is too late -something can happen now, as a 5 year old child  is only 5 once, so 2020 is still too late.

It took just 5 months to establish a 12 week school readiness programme in 7 regions in Tanzania – developing a curriculum, writing and illustrating 12 story books, training 1000 volunteer Community Teaching Assistants, engaging communities and preparing more than 50,000 children to start primary school, where they could not access previously. In January 2016 a sample of children were assessed and achieved equally or more than children who had one year of pre-primary school and very much higher than those who had no access to pre-primary classes. They are now progressing well.

So why wait? We can make a start now!

School Readiness – a formula for equity?

After a slow start early childhood education is now picking up a pace, with more governments increasing their pre-school provision, through a mixture of state and private investment.

What is only recently being recognised is that there are still many children not being able to access pre-school provision through living too far from the school, living in poverty, being a girl whose domestic responsibilities prevent her from starting school at the correct age, and those who are not ready to start primary school because their mother tongue is not the language of instruction.

At primary level if the language of the learner is different from the teacher they are less likely to succeed and more likely to fall behind -the teacher may not be trained to work bilingually and may not have the patience or resources to differentiate their teaching for their diverse class.

What is also certain, those children living in disadvantaged families, including those living in poverty, will not receive the cognitive stimulation at home which will support their brain development. Once these children start some distance behind other children they are likely to fall behind their peers, may have to repeat grades and eventually drop out or be too old to continue due to the pressure of early marriage,for example, in the case of girls.

If we are to improve equity -what can we do to ensure that all children start formal schooling ready to learn in a context which can be rather intimidating to many young learners?

The formula has to be RC+RF+RS=RC , where R=Ready, C=Community,F=Family, S=School and C= children.

This approach is having benefits in Tanzania where the GoT/EQUIP-Tanzania initiative on School Readiness is being piloted.

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Community Teaching Assistants presenting their teaching aids made from local materials

 

More news on this initiative coming quite soon.

 

 

 

Disadvantage at the Starting Gate: Early Childhood Education in Pakistan

Source: Disadvantage at the Starting Gate: Early Childhood Education in Pakistan

By Huma Zia Faran, Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), Pakistan.

ASER1The recent upsurge in research on the development of a child’s brain underscores the need for greater attention to early childhood care and education, especially in developing countries. Studies (Cunha et al., 2006, and Heckman et al., 2010) reveal how a child’s brain develops at a surprisingly rapid rate during the early years thereby laying foundations for lifelong development. Early childhood education helps level the playing field for disadvantaged children as they enter primary school, empowering them to be confident and successful in later education and employment.

The recently agreed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on education, that Pakistan has committed to, makes reference to the importance of early childhood education:

Goal 4.2: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

Being part of such global education commitments and following Article 25-A of Pakistan’s Constitution on the Right to Education, Pakistan included at least one compulsory year of early childhood education in its National Education Policy and developed a National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education (ECE). However, the ECE goals were farfetched. By the end of 2015, ASER Pakistan found that the proportion of children between 3-5 years who were out of school was 61% in rural areas and 42% in urban areas. In rural areas, 51% of early childhood provision is public, compared to 58% in urban areas.

Evidence from ASER shows that Pakistan faces a two-fold challenge – access to early childhood schooling and the long lasting effect it has on the learning abilities of a child.

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In Tanzania, the situation may be seen as similar in that many rural children do not have access to pre-primary education, may not be taught in their mother tongue when they reach primary school and this fact alone starts to explain the low achievement at grade 3 – so the effects are immediate and long lasting. More on this on other blog posts such as here.

Effective training approaches in Tanzania

Here in Tanzania we have just completed  a second workshop for national facilitators for the School Readiness Programme.

The core aspect of the training is that what we practice during the national training is exactly what we expect the Community Teaching Assistants to do in their classrooms, so there is little loss in quality as we pass through the cascade.

As you can see, we spend much of the time on the floor!

We spend time on the floor national facilitators2 national facilitators1

At National Level

 

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using masks in groupUsing pictures

During training for District facilitators (Regional level)

 

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cta Mpwapwa

Application by Community Teaching Assistants at village level.

Not only are the results noticeable within a couple of weeks but the feedback to facilitators enthuses them greatly and they can feel great pride that their work, at such a distance, can have such an impact on children directly, within a relatively short time. During their next training they are so motivated and are able to build their ‘vision’ of their impact on the next generation of Tanzanians. This professional vision develops into a true intrinsic motivation that really changes behaviour.

 

Peacebuilding through Early Childhood Education – UNICEF podcast

Having worked on peace education with adolescents I realise how important the early socialisation into peaceful ways of resolving/managing conflict are.

This has to work on a personal, family, group, community level before we can hope to move towards peaceful coexistence in the world.

Podcast: Peacebuilding through Early Childhood Education
UNICEF
Evidence shows that the early years of life are strong predictors for individual health and development, as well as cognitive and social-emotional development. In UNICEF’s latest podcast, they spoke with three experts about why integrating peace education into early childhood education has a positive long-term effect on peace. Kyle D. Pruett is a Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, Michael Evans is the Founder and Executive Director of Full Court Peace – and Siobhan Fitzpatrick is Chief Executive of Early Years.

To listen to the podcast and make your comment, please click here.

Proposed Competencies for Learning Outcomes: Early Childhood, Primary, and Post-Primary

 

Proposed Competencies for Learning Outcomes: Early Childhood, Primary, and Post-Primary

Background

The Education for All (EFA) goals initiated in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand demonstrated a commitment to meeting basic learning needs. This commitment was restated in 2000 in the Dakar Framework for Action, in which Goal 6 states; “Improving every aspect of the quality of education, and ensuring their excellence so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills”. Yet today there is growing evidence suggesting that millions of children and youth do not have the basic skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in school and life. Since 2000, there have been extraordinary gains in access to education.However, many of those who do complete the education cycle do not finish with the skills needed to fully participate in society and the economy. The true cost to society is impossible to measure within current assessment systems. While international assessments are used to compare learning across countries, they do not include the majority of the world’s children living in low- and low-middle-income countries, particularly the most vulnerable children and youth. Other multi-country assessments are conducted following approaches that prevent their results from being pooled into a unique set of equivalent evidence.

Global Compact on Learning

The Global Compact on Learning consultation process presents a unique opportunity to have a voice in the global education agenda and policy discourse. It is  hoped that through this exercise, the GCL can begin to capture the diversity of perspectives across the education community. To take part in this consultation process get more information from  here.

Global Action Week 2012 – Early Childhood Matters

Global Action Week 2012 (22-28 April)

Global Action Week is a worldwide annual campaign organized by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) to raise awareness of the importance of Education for All. UNESCO actively supports the campaign by organizing activities in its Headquarters and Field Offices, mobilizing networks and encouraging Ministers of Education and all EFA partners to participate.UNESCO/Gary Masters
- The Roving

Gary Masters -Jamaica

Using the slogan “Rights from the Start! Early Childhood Care and EducationNow!”, Global Action Week 2012 is focusing on the first of the six Education for All (EFA) Goals:

“Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children”.

Global Action Week 2012 allows UNESCO to follow up on commitments made at the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (27-29 September 2010, Moscow, Russian Federation) and mobilize stronger political support for the development of ECCE.

To mark Education for All Global Action Week, the Global Campaign for Education is launching a report today that considers early childhood care and education – the focus of the week – from the point of view of human rights.

The report, Rights from the start, argues that early childhood care and education is commonly misunderstood as merely a tool to increase human capital and economic development. This can overshadow the right every person has to care and education in their early years – a right that is currently denied to 200 million children. As we point out in the policy paper we released for Global Action Week, most children still do not go to pre-school, and the children who miss out are those who need it the most.

The report from the Global Campaign for Education calls on governments to commit to care and education for all young children, without discrimination, ensuring that teachers are trained and supported and that investment is increased. It also calls on donor governments to honour their commitments to support countries to achieve Education for All.

And from INEE:

To commemorate Global Action Week (22-28 April) podcast moderator Kathryn Herzog spoke with Jack P. Shonkoff, MD, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and Chloe O’Gara, Program Officer for the Hewlett Foundation’s Global Development and Population Program, about the importance of early childhood care and education and the issues around early learning.

To listen to this podcast, click here.