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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2000 CAB: Measuring the Impact: An Assessment of Progress in ECECD in the Caribbean

Author: Charles, L.

Executive summary


This monograph was written as a contribution to the EFA in the Caribbean: Assessment 2000 Series and was guided by the technical framework defined in the Caribbean Specific Guidelines prepared by the Technical Sub-committee of the Caribbean Regional Advisory Group.

Purpose / Objective

The purpose of the monograph is to assess the progress made in achieving the objectives of the Education for All (EFA) Assessment 2000 process as related to Early Childhood Education, Care and Development (ECECD) in the Caribbean. It does this by assessing the implementation of the components of the Caribbean Plan of Action (POA) for ECECD that are directly related to the EFA objectives. Within this framework, this monograph addresses five of the nine objectives of the POA, namely:
- Integrated social planning and implementation of initiatives. The relevant EFA indicators are:
EFA goals and targets
EFA strategy and/or plan of action
EFA decision-making and management
Co-operation in EFA
- Legislative framework for coordinated provision of services and monitoring of standards in sector
- Adequate financing. The relevant EFA indicators are:
Investment in EFA since 1990
Public expenditure
- Equitable access to quality provisions. The relevant EFA indicators are:
Gross enrollment
Provision of facilities
Pupil-teacher ratio
- Appropriate curriculum and materials development


The information contained in the monograph was generated by the use of a variety of techniques:
- Literature search: Information on the early childhood context and the rationale for focusing and investing in ECECD was generated through a literature search and review of relevant documentation.
- Questionnaire: The information on the status of the various components in 19 islands was collected using a questionnaire.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The information submitted indicates that the systematic management of the entire early childhood sector is a new phenomenon in the region. The issue of intersectoral integration of a broader range of services for young children and their families is even newer. There is, as yet, too little documentation on these processes to be able to provide illustrative cases. It would seem, however, that many countries are moving in that direction and that efforts are being made in some countries to involve relevant stakeholders in the development of policy. This is a process that has to be encouraged and strengthened.

There is, however, in most countries, a separation between the management of day care and pre-school services, which could compromise the need for a smooth transition from one stage to the other. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that as systematic management processes are being developed, the necessary mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the strategies and approaches used at the day care stage are complementary to those used at the pre-school stage, and vice versa. The questionnaire did not probe the related issue of transition management to primary education, a concern of the POA.

The formalization of legislative frameworks is a relatively recent development and has been completed in only six countries in the region. A larger number of countries indicated that they either had plans to begin developing legislation, or were in the process of developing the same. The development of legislation for the sector was being done in the context of the development of an overall policy framework, which included the establishment of formal standards for the operation of the sector.

It is clear from the data that the region still has a long way to go in terms of increasing enrolment of children in early childhood programmes. The low Gross Enrollment Rations (GERs) for the day care sector is cause for extreme concern, given the importance of the first three years of a child's development. Although there are a few parenting outreach programmes (e.g., Jamaica, Trinidad) targeting this age group, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that these efforts are extensive enough to mitigate these low figures. The GERs for the pre-school sector, although much higher than that for day care, is still cause for concern as, with the exception of the Turks and Caicos Islands, they fall far short of the 100% primary enrolment that most countries are striving to achieve.

This means, in effect, that significant proportions of children enter the formal education system without any preparation for formal education (26% in Barbados and higher in the other countries) or, under the most optimistic scenarios, at a disadvantage to the others who have had the benefits of pre-primary education. This concern is further heightened by the pupil-teacher ratios, which indicate that the quality of attention at many pre-schools may not be up to the desired standards.

There is a need to address the unavailability of data that can be accessed and analyzed within the region. The availability of data is critical to assessing and monitoring progress being made in the implementation of the POA.


Future planning for the early childhood sector will have to give urgent consideration to actions in four areas that are aimed at responding to this reality:
- The design and institutionalization of systems for data collection, collation, analysis and dissemination
- Increasing the awareness of the benefits of using data to guide decision making and daily operations
- Technical training in data collection, collation, analysis techniques
- Training for decision makers in the analysis and use of data for decision making purposes

Implementation of the above actions would go a long way in ensuring that the Caribbean's EFA 2010 Report will accurately reflect the dynamism of national efforts and sub-regional collaboration in planning and delivering effective, high quality early childhood services throughout the Caribbean.

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