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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2017 LACRO: Multi-Country Evaluation of Early Child Education Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean

Author: Centro de Politicas Comparadas de Educacion

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 4’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 5’.


From 1990 and 2010, educational opportunities for children between 3 to 6 years old have slowly improved. The Latin American and the Caribbean regional average coverage for preschool went from 56% in 1990 to 66% in 2010. This positive trend is observed in all countries over the years. However, some countries have very high coverage, while other very low. On equity, the LAC region reports important differences within the countries themselves. Children under the lowest quintiles, in rural areas, and/or are part of indigenous communities are particularly in high disadvantage.
Different countries in LAC have responded in different ways to increase or try to reach universality of preprimary services, including traditional and non-traditional modalities. Early child education policy and legal context are anchored at the education framework, but does not necessarily it restricts it to institutionalized efforts. While the government plays a major role in ensuring reaching universalization of pre-school, other partners are key to reach important milestones. Community organizations, including women and parent groups, international agencies, such UNICEF, play an important role in removing barriers that limit the realization of preschool rights in all children. Different actors are relevant and contribute with inputs from the upstream and downstream work.


Considering the differences in advances in ECE in the region, and the political and trends towards universalization of preprimary education, the LAC region provides an array of countries which either offer valuable lessons learned to increase the coverage of early learning opportunities, while others with similar context may benefit from this analysis. For instance, the LAC Region average for gross enrollment in pre-primary education 75%, with countries with percent lower than 50%, such as Dominican Republic (39%), Honduras (42%), and Belize (48%), and countries with high percentage, such as Uruguay (89%), Peru (78%), and Mexico (101%), among others.
The evaluation insights is used to determine adequate strategies for enhanced quality services and actions, increased demand for and greater access to early childhood education services, in all his forms and methodologies in LAC countries to reach universalization of this service along the region, especially for the most vulnerable.


The evaluation employs relevant internationally agreed evaluation criteria of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. The Evaluation is based on primary and secondary data sources (quantitative and qualitative). Information collected has been explicitly triangulated. It includes the views from stakeholders (authorities, decision makers, programme personnel, beneficiaries, etc.). During the inception phase, the evaluation team designed the evaluation methodology which builds on the theory of change and on the common objectives arising across interventions to develop an evaluation matrix; and it is geared towards addressing the evaluation questions.
The evaluation methodology includes desk reviews and analyses of existing programme and project related documents; analysis of existing national policy and planning documents; analysis of primary and secondary data (from existing data sets) on Early Childhood Education disaggregated by age, sex, residence, wealth, disability status and so on; and visits to selected countries, with structured interviews with key stakeholders, including government representatives; structured observations as necessary; structured interviews with local partners; focus group discussions with service providers.

Findings and Conclusions:

The evaluation verifies the hypothesis initially proposed in relation to different policy instruments (laws, budget laws, and improvement strategies) produced changes in the determinants of their system and resulted in greater access and reduction of inequality gaps between the richest and the poorest. Although there are still outstanding quality challenges, the region has experienced important advances in this area.
There is an increase in public spending on initial education. In addition, all countries had a budget to increase access to early education. This was a great facilitator for the achievement of access and quality goals in almost all countries. However, management of resources in all countries was a limiting factor, including an insufficient planning and monitoring of economic and human resources.
In terms of supply, it was observed that all countries prioritized increasing access through the increase of classrooms in primary schools, adding the levels for 4 and 5 years and in some cases the 3 years, then a second stage to improve the quality of these services. Consequently, after an initial impulse with significant advances, countries face in recent years, with bottlenecks more difficult to solve.
In the area of demand, in some countries, the beliefs and perceptions of families about the importance of initial education have been increasing. In other cases. This participation has been ensured in the level that attends children of 5 years where participation is practically universal, increased significantly for the 4 years and there are still differences in the 3 years.
The strategies of the policy framework evaluated for increasing access on early childhood education have allowed sustainability. This is mainly because the resources have been secured and this level of education has been institutionalized. Undoubtedly, there are still pending challenges, but everything points to an improvement of the different determinants of the system.


Política, Gestión y Coordinación Intersectorial
1: Construir políticas de educación inicial de largo plazo, plasmadas en los cuerpos normativos de los países.
2: Explicitar en estas políticas el enfoque de derechos e incluir en su implementación la formación de quienes trabajan con niños y niñas y de las familias acerca de las implicancias de este enfoque en la práctica.
3: Las políticas orientadas a la expansión o mejora de la calidad en la educación inicial deben estar rigurosamente planificadas.
4: Desarrollar capacidad de gestión a nivel regional y local.
5: Fomentar la articulación intersectorial.
Presupuesto y Gasto
6: Asegurar el presupuesto para las políticas de educación inicial.
7: Diseñar el gasto.
8: Mejorar la gestión.
9. Gasto por alumno y no asociado a la asistencia.
10: Abordar la equidad de manera estratégica.
11: Generar sistemas de incentivo para formar y atraer docentes altamente calificados y apropiadamente contextualizados a zonas vulnerables.
12: Generar sistemas de identificación y apoyo de niños y niñas con necesidades especiales.
Estudios y levantamiento de datos
13: Fomentar evaluaciones de costo y programas piloto.
14: Investigación y evaluación de programas:
15: Desarrollar la carrera docente de educadoras/es de párvulos y técnicos en párvulo.
16: Desarrollar las capacidades de equipos directivos y de gestión para la administración de los servicios
17: Fomentar la pertinencia o la sensibilidad cultural y social de las docentes y técnicos.
18: Creación de estándares de calidad pertinentes
19: Disminución del coeficiente técnico
Transición a la Escuela Primaria
20: Definir expectativas de aprendizaje y desarrollo
21: Generar políticas y sistemas de detección de trayectorias
Trabajo con las familias
22: Sensibilización sobre la importancia del desarrollo temprano.
23: Proveer alternativas flexibles para las familias.
24: Transparentar los costos escondidos para las familias

Lessons Learned:

• Las mejoras en educación inicial requieren de la voluntad política de los gobiernos de hacerse cargo de las necesidades existentes en este ámbito.
• Creciente valoración de la Educación Inicial como un derecho.
• Falta de evaluaciones de impacto, aplicaciones pilotos y evaluaciones de costo-efectividad limitan la existencia de información para la toma correcta de decisiones.
• Levantar información y analizar las necesidades de la demanda, teniéndola a ella como informante clave.
• Necesidad de mayor planificación de los recursos económicos y humanos para la expansión del acceso.
• Importancia de asegurar los recursos para la expansión y mejora de la calidad de la educación inicial en el presupuesto de la nación para asegurar la sostenibilidad de las acciones emprendidas.
• Acceso, equidad y calidad deben ir de la mano.
• Escolarización de los niveles para los 4 y 5 años.
• Formación docente, capacitación y perfeccionamiento docente.
• Importancia de la articulación y coordinación de múltiples instituciones, tales como educación terciaria, sistemas de salud, desarrollo social, presupuesto y entidades no gubernamentales
• Sistemas de evaluación, monitoreo y seguimiento de las prácticas pedagógicas.

Full report in PDF

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Report information





Early Childhood Development

Ministry/Secretaries of Education, Universidad Diego Portales



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