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Early Childhood

Evidence for ECD Investment

Early Childhood Development is seen as one of the most cost efficient investments in human capital which leads to a country’s sustainable development. Economic analyses from the developed and developing world is converging on a set of conclusions, with the main idea being that investing in the earliest years leads to some of the highest rates of return to families, societies and countries. The investment case is not only made with respect to returns but also with respect to the cost of inaction. Science has demonstrated that early childhood interventions, early in life are important because they help mitigate the impact of adverse early experiences which if not addressed lead to poor health (e.g., non-communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes), poor educational attainment, economic dependency, increased violence and crime, greater substance abuse and depression – all of which add to the cost and burden in society.

Supporting Evidence

  • A simulation on increasing pre-school enrolment in 73 countries found benefits in terms of higher future wages of $6.4-$17.6 per dollar invested. The simulation indicated potential long-term benefits which range from $11 to $34 billion. (For more details, click here)
  • An evaluation of the High/Scope Perry Preschool project, one of the most well-known in the US, found up to around $16 in benefits for every dollar invested, with public benefits estimated to be $12.90 per dollar invested. (For more details, click here)
  • For The Chicago Child-Parent Center, a half-day programme for low income children, benefits included increasing economic well-being and tax revenues, reducing public expenditures for remedial education, criminal justice treatment, and crime victims. The benefits are estimated to be approximately $7.10 per dollar invested. (For more details, click here)
  • During the 2008-2010 food crisis in Ethiopia, with support from the Pulitzer Foundation and collaboration with UNICEF, Play Therapy Africa (PTA) led the management of 49 outreach therapeutic sites and one hospital in the Southern Nations (SNNPR) involving both In-Patient Care (TFU) and Out Patient Therapeutic Program (OTP). Findings from this exercise revealed that integrating emotional stimulation and good parenting techniques of ECD into the therapeutic feeding programme prevented emotional, development and intellectual loss/damage for malnourished children and facilitated their early discharge from the hospital following successful treatment of malnutrition. (For more details, click here
  • UNICEF and Save the Children operational research published in 2003 revealed the significant improvement in primary education grade promotion, repetition and dropout rates attributable to school readiness/ECD programmes.



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