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Early Childhood

Field Experiences and Innovations

Field Experiences

UNCIEF’s work in Early Childhood Development is most apparent through progress made in the field. The following documents, case studies and stories capture our work and achievements in the field as well as innovative and integrated approaches used to achieve results for young children’s development and their families.

Early Childhood Development: Real Life Stories from Around the World
This booklet contains stories from Cambodia, DRC, Ghana, Malawi, Mongolia, Nepal, Swaziland and Tanzania. It provides real life accounts of how ECD interventions impact the lives of young children and increase their chances to survive, develop and become healthy, happy and productive adults.

Impact Assessment of ECD Kits after the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti
The impact assessment report of ECD Kits describes the use and impact of distributing UNICEF ECD Kits in the early phases of the post emergency situation in Haiti. The use of the kit includes logistics and processes. Impact addresses intended and unintended outcomes of the kit, with an emphasis on community level and child focused learning outcomes.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - ECD in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition
The UNICEF Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition (EEPCT) programme began in 2006 through a partnership between UNICEF and the Government of the Netherlands with additional support from the European Commission. This case study documents and evaluates some of the highlights of the EEPCT programme, focusing on nine early childhood education centers in two communities (Mbandaka and Bikoro) in the Équateur Province, which were affected by various conflicts during 1997–1998, 2005–2006 and 2009.

Belarus - Early Childhood Intervention, Special Education and Inclusion
This study reviews early childhood intervention (ECI), special education and inclusive education programmes in Belarus.

India - Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in India is the world’s largest integrated early childhood programme, with over 40,000 centers nationwide.

Maldives - First Steps
The First Steps project involves capacity building designed to foster print, radio, and television media for and about children up to the age of five.

Jordan - Early Childhood Development / Better Parenting (ECD/BP Project)
This project provides parents and caregivers of very young children with the necessary knowledge, skills and social services concerning child rearing, specifically in the area of health, nutrition and social-emotional development.


ECD Index

For the fourth round of UNICEF’s Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS4), data collection was expanded to include a 10-item Early Child Development Index (ECDI) that aims to measure the developmental status of children within four domains: literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional and learning. The indicator is defined as the “Percentage of children 36-59 months who are developmentally on track in literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional and learning domains”.

Items included in the ECDI are based on benchmarks that children would be expected to have reached if they are developing as the majority of children in the 36-59 months age group. The four domains are defined as follows:

  • Literacy-numeracy: Children are identified as being developmentally on track if they can do at least two of the following: identify/name at least ten letters of the alphabet; read at least four simple, popular words; and/or know the name and recognize the symbols of all numbers from 1 to 10.  
  • Physical: If the child can pick up a small object with two fingers, like a stick or rock from the ground, and/or the mother/caregiver does not indicate that the child is sometimes too sick to play, then the child is regarded as being developmentally on track in the physical domain.
  • Social-emotional: The child is considered developmentally on track if two of the following are true: the child gets along well with other children; the child does not kick, bite or hit other children; and the child does not get distracted easily. 
  • Learning: If the child follows simple directions on how to do something correctly and/or when given something to do, is able to do it independently, then the child is considered to be developmentally on track in the learning domain.

The ECDI score is then calculated as the percentage of children aged 36-59 months who are developmentally on track in at least three of these four domains. This index is best interpreted within the context of the other variables related to support for early childhood development in the home and community.



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