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UNESCO World Conference to urge for higher investment in decisive years of early childhood care and education

UNESCO World Conference to urge for higher investment in decisive years of early childhood care and education

Despite strong evidence showing the benefits of early childhood care and education, new UNESCO data shows that 1 out of 4 children aged 5 entirely lack any form of pre-primary education, a figure representing 35 million out of 137 million 5-year-old children worldwide. The data also spotlights that only half of all countries globally guarantee young children free pre-primary education. 

24 October 2022 – From 14 to 16 November, UNESCO’s World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, will reaffirm every young child’s right to quality care and education, and push for increased investment in children during the period from birth to eight years. 

‘Investing in early education is the most transformative investment a country can make to give all children a fair start in life and combat inequalities early on,’ says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. ‘It is critical to lay the foundation preparing children for primary education, and enabling them to thrive through lifelong learning.’

Hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan, the World Conference will bring together over 1,000 participants, including Heads of State and Government and ministers, as well as participants from civil society, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, teacher and parent associations, and academia. A declaration of commitment to expand inclusive access to quality early childhood care and education by 2030 and beyond is expected to be adopted. 

The World Conference aims to galvanize political commitments for radical change and to new benchmarks to care for and educate society's youngest, on four thematic priorities: (1) inclusion, quality, and wellbeing; (2) educators, teachers and caregivers; (3) innovations; and (4) policy, governance and finance. 

Educational inequalities start in early childhood

The brain develops at its fastest rate during early childhood. The conditions a young child experiences during that time will influence his or her long-term cognitive, social, and emotional development. Consequently, educational inequalities start in the early years and persist throughout life. 

The most recent UNESCO data indicates that globally, six out of every ten children are unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of ten. Providing equal opportunities early and for all young children, through access to quality early childhood care and education, is the critical first step to eliminating such entrenched disparities in education outcomes and livelihoods. In addition, early sensitization and awareness of climate change, global citizenship, gender equality, and living together are critical to achieving sustainable development, peace, and prosperity. 

The World Conference follows the recent UN Transforming Education Summit, which called for prioritizing foundational learning to enable all children to reach their full potential and participate in society. 

For additional information, please visit: https://www.wcecce2022.org

For an earlier announcement in the Asia-Pacific region: 
https://bangkok.unesco.org/content/unesco-early-childhood-care-education-world-conference-wcecce-ecce-uzbekistan

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Media contacts: 
Anne Muller, UNESCO Headquarters (a.muller(at)unesco.org)
Gregory Galligan, UNESCO Bangkok (g.galligan(at)unesco.org
Reshmi Majumdar, UNESCO Tashkent (r.majumdar(at)unesco.org)