Early childhood development

All children ages of 0-5 years are progressively cared for through quality ECD services and in protective and nurturing family environments

Children are playing with learning materials and toys
UNICEF/UN0161262/Thuentap

The Challenges

Early childhood – the first months and years of life – is the most important period of development in a child’s life. It is a time of rapid brain development, language, social, emotional, sensory and motor development. It is when the foundation for that development and for lifelong learning is set. With this one-time-only window of opportunity, early childhood development and investment must be a priority of every family and the nation.

34% of fathers engage in four or more activities that promote learning

34% of fathers engage in four or more activities that promote learning

15% of children aged 3-5 years are not attending an early childhood education programme.

15% of children aged 3-5 years are not attending an early childhood education programme

59% of children younger than 5 years do not have at least three books at home

59% of children younger than 5 years do not have at least three books at home

In Thailand, many children lack appropriate care and stimulation. A large number of parents, especially fathers, do not engage in learning activities with their young children. Access to children’s books – which is crucial for the child’s learning and imagination – is limited, especially in the poor households. Although participation in early childhood education makes a huge difference in a child’s development, around 15 per cent of children aged 3-5 years are not attending an early childhood education programme. For those who have received early learning experiences are not receiving the quality services in order to allow them to reach their full potentials.

The Solutions

UNICEF Thailand worked with policy makers across the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior, and within the National Early Childhood Development Committee on developing the National Early Childhood Development Plan. This included advocacy on nutrition, parenting, the quality of services and skills of early childhood development (ECD) professionals using the MICS data to ensure an equity focus and specific indicators tracking access to services for disadvantaged children, including children with disabilities, migrant children and children from poor families. UNICEF provided technical support for coordinating inputs from relevant ministries.

UNICEF Thailand worked with provincial policymakers to help them better understand children’s issues as well as the science of child development and supported the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to set ECD priorities within the next five years, drawing upon the national strategy and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data for Bangkok.

Children showing paper puppets they made.
UNICEF/UN040355/Thuentap
Students at PiboonPrachasan School in Bangkok are showing the paper puppets they made with pride. UNICEF distributes paper puppets to early childhood development centres across Thailand to help support children’s development. When children play with puppets, they improve their language and communication skills through the use of verbal and facial expression, gesture, and symbol.

UNICEF Thailand continued advocacy for legislation related to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 2017, including coordinating an event to show public support for the law and advocating with the law review committee members. Following the passage of the Control of Marketing of Infant and Young Child Food Act in April 2017, UNICEF continued to promote the benefits of breastfeeding through advocacy and communication and technical support to the Ministry of Public Health for the development of the Ministerial Notification to give effect to the law.

UNICEF Thailand continued to advance the Breastfeeding in Workplace initiative, including the development of a database of participating employers. Support was provided to the MOPH and other stakeholders to produce an advocacy package that targets the business sector to promote breastfeeding.