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Early Childhood

ECD Monitoring

Early Childhood Development is multidimensional, encompassing several aspects of a child’s well-being. Measuring it is a growing science. Even though there is a plethora of evidence in the developed world on the necessity and positive impact of early childhood interventions, knowledge on child development and evidence on what works in different geographic, socio-cultural and economic contexts, in developing countries, is still emerging.

UNICEF has been working with countries and partners to close this knowledge gap by developing indicators to measure the status of ECD outcomes through the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). Indicators designed to assess the quality of a child’s home environment and access to early childhood care and education were included in the third round of MICS (MICS3), implemented mainly in 2005 and 2006. These indicators provide very good estimates of the quality of the child’s proximal and most important contexts for stimulating and supporting positive development. The majority of countries participating in MICS3 included these indicators on early learning and child development, representing the first time that data on these specific topics were collected from such a large cross-section of low- and middle-income countries.

For the fourth round of MICS (MICS4), data collection was expanded to include an Early Child Development Index (ECDI) that aims to measure the developmental status of children within four domains: literacy-numeracy, physical, and social-emotional development. By doing so, now the MICS is one of the only global sources to measure children’s outcomes in a holistic manner in the early childhood years. An important advantage of MICS is the ability to disaggregate the data to reveal important inequities faced by children such as those related to gender, area of residence, ethnicity and household poverty.
The data on ECD progress collected through MICS provide a compelling case for more effective, better resourced and targeted interventions on early childhood development and for advocacy with national governments to improve the conditions for young children.  Latest data from MICS4 on key ECD indicators at the global and regional levels can be accessed here.

In addition to outcome level indicators measured through MICS, recently UNICEF also developed a new conceptual framework called “Monitoring Results for Equity System” (MoRES), to monitor input and output level indicators such as supply and demand bottlenecks that may impede programme implementation. The MoRES framework is designed so that UNICEF systems and strategies can be adjusted at a rapid pace towards equity re-focus and orientation to achieve results. For ECD, MoRES indicators exist in the area of Organized Early Learning.



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