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Early Childhood

ECD in Post-2015 Development Agenda

Children are central to sustainable development. The early years of life are crucial to establishing a sound foundation for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development for the rest of their lives. Events in the first few years of life are formative and play a vital role in shaping social, emotional, learning and health outcomes and in building human capital, thereby promoting economic productivity later in life.

One of the areas of ECD programming is providing working parents with access to quality child care for their young children. This becomes increasingly pertinent in the context of sustainable development beyond 2015 and reaching the most marginalized. Given the growth in female employment and the need to have both parents working in case of poverty, oftentimes one or both parents may be engaged in the informal sectors of the economy without the benefit of paternal or maternal leave. For the vast majority of poor parents working in the informal sector, access to quality child care services is critical. In the absence of quality child care, a poor family is faced with the difficult choice of either one parent leaving work that generates the much-needed income, or both parents continuing to work while leaving the young child home alone or with inadequate care, such as with an older sibling under the age of 10. This has been associated with not only sub-optimal development of the children themselves, but also the older siblings dropping out of school and finally safety concerns of accidents and fatalities.

Decreased child mortality, relatively improved nutrition and school enrolment may give a picture that the World is on track on its promises for children. However, many of the children who are surviving now, are not achieving their full developmental potential. According to an estimate, in developing countries around the world, 200 million children under 5 years of age are not achieving their potential. Moreover, 57 million children around the world are out of school and thus at risk. Moreover, if one digs deeper, beyond national averages, there are widening disparities among regions, countries and within countries, based on wealth, gender, and geographic location.
Through ECD programmes improved outcomes are noted for child health, nutrition, learning and development in marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Children’s learning outcomes are noted in improved academic achievements and in lowered school drop-out rates throughout their school attendance. Children who take part in ECD programmes also tend to have better health and nutritional outcomes throughout their lifetimes and become productive members of society. ECD can contribute not only to human capital development, but also to economic and social development (watch a relevant video here).

In the face of increasing conflict, ECD is also considered an entry point for peace-building in communities. Moreover, good early learning programmes can help build resilience of children and families in emergency and fragile contexts.

Love for the environment is developed during the early years. Early childhood pedagogues can build an appreciation for the environment that is life-long. Work toward environmental sustainability must include ECD and must promote early childhood involvement.



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