A world ready to learn
Prioritizing quality early childhood education
In an ideal world, governments would fully fund all components of the education sector.
But budgetary realities can force decision makers to prioritize different parts of the system. In this negotiation, pre-primary education too often loses out. There is undoubtedly an urgent need to increase access to quality primary, secondary and tertiary education. However, the evidence demonstrating high returns on investment in pre-primary education is equally compelling. Students equipped with a quality early childhood education are better prepared to reach higher levels of education and to prosper once they enter the workforce.
Quality education during the early years sets children up for success throughout their education. Numerous country-level studies have shown that students who complete pre-primary school are less likely to repeat grades and more likely to complete primary and secondary school.
Such students are also much more likely to be literate and numerate, as well as more socially and emotionally developed. Together, this evidence suggests that quality pre-primary education will ultimately help each country meet its goals for primary, secondary and higher education.
Successful students move more efficiently through the education system, meaning that investing in educational opportunities during the early years of a child’s life could ultimately save money during later stages of their education down the road. In Sierra Leone, for example, where just a third of 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-primary education, a shocking 18 per cent of students repeat first grade. By reducing the number of students who repeat grades, require individualized attention or drop out, a strong pre-primary system will free up funds that can be spread throughout the system in the future.