Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is the foundation of lifelong learning. UNESCO Bangkok is fully committed to supporting Member States’ efforts to expand and improve comprehensive ECCE that will optimize the potential of young children in the Asia and Pacific region.
UNESCO Bangkok’s ECCE program is dedicated to advocating, building partnerships, providing technical assistance, researching, and implementing capacity development projects in the region.
What is ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ all about?
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) concerns children from birth to age 8, from prenatal care to promoting a smooth transition to primary school. It includes both in-home and out-of-home settings, and can target either parents or children. The role of families in ECCE is paramount: parents are children’s first caregivers and educators.
ECCE includes “care” (health, hygiene and nutrition and child care in a nurturing environment) and “education” (play, socialization, guidance and developmental activities), ideally provided in an integrated manner.
The global commitment to ECCE
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes basic human rights that children everywhere have the rights to survival, full development and protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, and participation in family, cultural and social life.
ECCE is a right of all young children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted in 1989, testifies that- “young children have the right not only to survive but also to thrive and develop to their fullest potential.”
The World Declaration on Education for All (1990) recognized ECCE as part of basic education: “Learning begins at birth. This calls for early childhood care and education. These can be provided through arrangements involving families, communities, or institutional programmes, as appropriate” (Article V).
The focus on ECCE was reaffirmed at the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal (2000), where EFA Goal 1 was established:
“Expanding and improving comprehensive Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.”
More recently, the commitment to this EFA Goal 1 was reinstated at the World Conference on ECCE in Moscow, Russia (2010), where representatives of the conference concluded that EFA Goal 1 was “at great risk of not being achieved by 2015 unless urgent and resolute action is taken.”
Why is ‘Early Childhood Education and Care’ important?
The connections of cerebral neurons are formed during the first years of life. A child’s emotional, social and physical developments are influenced by his/her interactions with caregivers and home environment. Good nutrition, health and positive stimuli in early years support children’s development and learning, while their lack and a high level of prolonged stress due to neglect, abuse, etc. could cause abnormalities in brain development and lead to developmental delays and health problems that are difficult to compensate later in their life.
Cost benefit analysis indicates that the highest return on investment in human capital occurs during early years, and investment in ECCE programmes is cheaper and brings long-term benefits that outperform investment in later stages of education and remedial skills development programmes.
Attendance in good ECCE programmes prepares children for primary school and facilitates the home-to-school transition. School readiness helps reduce dropouts and repetition rates, which tend to concentrate in the first grade, as well as improve children’s learning outcomes. ECCE programmes focussing on children in disadvantaged and vulnerable situations (e.g. poverty, residence in remote areas, disabilities, gender discrimination, low maternal education) help ensure all children start school on an equal footing.
ECCE programmes lay foundation for gender equality. Research in developing countries shows that girls who attend ECCE programmes are more ready for primary school, cope better and stay longer than girls who do not. Maternal education has the potential to act as a powerful lever for progress in child health and nutrition. Children born to more educated mothers are more likely to survive and less likely to experience malnutrition.
UNESCO Bangkok’s ECCE programme for the Asia-Pacific region focuses on the following strategies:
Policy research and advocacy: UNESCO supports countries to undertake policy research and advocate promoting comprehensive ECCE among policy-makers, civil society and various other stakeholders.
Partnerships: UNESCO, as one of the founding member organizations of the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), supports ARNEC’s work in advocating policy change, knowledge generation, capacity building, information management and dissemination, and partnership building.
ECCE teacher development: UNESCO supports countries to develop capacity to comprehensively analyse pre-primary teacher education, professional development policies and systems, and to raise their standard.
Community-based parent education: UNESCO monitors the quality standards of community-based ECCE programmes and strives to support parents and families to be effective caregivers and educators.
Safe and effective use of ICT in Early Childhood Care and Education: UNESCO focuses on analysing existing research evidence, promoting sharing of experiences, and creating guidelines related to ICT integration in ECCE targeting policy-makers, pre-primary teachers and parents.
Publications: Under the publications section you will be able to access guidebooks, studies, policy reviews, action plans and important reports. In this section, you will also find the Resource Pack for implementing the Parenting Education Programme.
Videos: Under the video section you will be able to view video clips of key messages and good practices for Parenting education and other clips related to Early Childhood Care and Education.
Related links and Publications: Under this section, you will be able to access resources related to ECCE provided by UNESCO and other affiliated organizations.