School readiness

Children readiness is important to consider since it affects positively not only learning outcomes in primary school but also internal efficiency by reducing repetition and early dropout thus contributing to more children reaching the end of primary. The idea of encouraging children readiness aims at making a smooth transition from early childhood, pre-primary and primary school, and to enable children to gain competencies which could help to be more prepared to learn and understand basic education.

Policies ensuring children readiness have even more impact on poor and more disadvantaged families. Therefore, policies which can be implemented are part of an overall pro-poor economic growth in developing countries and reach social, economic, educational, and political demands. For individuals improved children readiness leads to a reduction in drop-outs, improves learning outcomes, and can increase productivity, employability and revenues when adults if it is combined with better health and sociability skills.

One important factor to stress about school readiness is the fact that learning outcomes are linked to children’s physical and socio-emotional well-being. It is thus important to pay attention to nutrition, protection, hygiene and health of children but also of their mother, from the pregnancy stage and during the early years, where the foundations are built and developmental outcomes are particularly sensitive to the quality of environmental factors. It is today acknowledged that cumulative delays might become difficult to recover, if not by more costly (remedial) interventions.

Two types of programmes are generally considered when it comes to preparing children to go to school: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and pre-primary education. However other labelling exists such as Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and Early Childhood Development (ECD). Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) refers usually to the 0 – 8-year-old, whereas pre-primary offer more structured leaning format for the 3 to 5-year-old required to cater for more complex competency development needs. 

Parents, children, and schools are the main actors of these programmes since they are active in this integrated approach. The idea is to prepare schools for children and to prepare parents and children for school. This requires bringing continuity between children’s home and pre-primary environments and pre-primary and primary school programmes, and, to ensure smooth transition from one setting to the other. Parents and caregivers are essential and should provide a harmonious, cohesive, and stimulating support; back up by dedicated trained staff and supported by the community.

This is a global evidence that Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) or at least pre-primary education is a key in improving both equity and quality outcomes at primary level and a major issue faced by many LICs today. The current focus would be to prioritize pre-primary (the 3-5-year-old) as a starting point and expand to other well-being dimensions as the system strengthen and capacities increase.

Research shows which aspects of school readiness can be improved, at different levels of action:

  • Lack of trained staff, coordination, funding, and linkage between services.
  • Overly academic programmes for children under 5 can undermine their cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional skills, as well as their motivation to learn.
  • Physical well-being and fine motor development.
  • General knowledge and cognitive skills (from home or pre-primary, capacity to acquire new knowledge and to have a cognitive flexibility with working memory).
  • Pre-academic abilities (language, curiosity, emotional security, self-regulation, self-confidence through play, exploration, and interaction with others).
References
Bruwer, M.; Hartell, C.; Steyn, M. 2014. Inclusive education and insufficient school readiness in Grade 1: Policy versus practice. Pretoria: South African Journal of Childhood Education. http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/sajce/v4n2/03.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2017c. Starting Strong 2017: Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/starting-strong-2017_9789264276116-en

Sridhar, D. 2008. Linkages between Nutrition, Ill-Health and Education. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2009. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001780/178022e.pdf

UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report. 2007. Strong foundations: Early childhood care and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001477/147794e.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012a. School Readiness: A Conceptual Framework. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/files/Child2Child_ConceptualFramework_FINAL(1).pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012b. School Readiness and Transitions. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/CFS_School_Readiness_E_web.pdf

Promising policy options

Safe and welcoming social environment

Having a safe and welcoming social environment is fundamental to guarantee that students will have the necessary level to do well in school. This means that a number of conditions need to occur outside of the classroom so that children don’t arrive with a lag to their school.

Regarding nutrition, hygiene, and health, it is important to have adequate water and sanitary infrastructure, and promotional campaigns pushing for proper hygiene practices in households. This will help prevent maternal and child diseases and deaths, and sensitize children to the importance of following sanity and healthy routine from a young age. Additionally, having a nation-wide immunization campaign means that herd immunity is easier to reach and that all students are protected against a range of infectious diseases.

Food-wise, it is important that support systems are in place to guarantee that young children are having adequate amounts of nutrients to foster their development, through the delivery of supplements (iron, zinc, vitamin A), meals and fortified food.

For children from 0 to 2, in order to ensure their optimal development, it is fundamental to have appropriate nutrition, through balanced diets during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding until six months and complementary feeding thereafter. They also require medical visits and checks, and protocols starting during the pregnancy.

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013b. Improving Child Nutrition The achievable imperative for global progress. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: www.unicef.org/gambia/Improving_Child_Nutrition__the_achievable_imperative_for_global_progress.pdf

Child protection

In order to protect children, it is necessary that every newborn has a birth certificate, and that systems are in place to guarantee that those birth certificate can obtain one. This is fundamental since access to all subsequent services in life require children to be registered before the State, particularly when it comes to accessing the school system.

Additionally, policies on violence and abuse prevention need to be set in place, to guarantee that children are growing in safe environments, away from harm and with all the tools to boost their development.

Parents and community involvement

Research shows that early high-quality interventions engaging parents lead to consistent, long-lasting effects on children learning outcomes (Bustamante et al., 2017b cited by IIEP-UNESCO, 2018). Strategies should be different for different age groups. For instance, for children from 0 to 2, provision should be made of a stimulating, secure, protective and welcoming environment to enable children to develop strong relationships with their parents and care-givers and give children the foundations they need to develop further abilities. As for children from 3 to 5, more complex forms of linguistic and cognitive stimulation by parents and care-givers should be provided.

Overall, a supportive learning environment at home, where children can play and learn, is indispensable for children’s learning development. To enhance this aspect various initiatives have been developed, such as Save the Children Emergent Literacy and Math Toolkit ELM. ELM provides various resources to support emergent literacy and math skills, as well as physical and socio-emotional development, not only at preschools and ECCE centres, but at home as well. This initiative has had positive results in Bangladesh as well as Ethiopia, particularly in promoting equity among vulnerable children (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018).

Overall, children should be provided with community infrastructures and safe spaces to hold ECCE and pre-primary, as well as parents’ education and counselling programmes, such as home visits, training in groups (with the children as much as possible).

Education inducing early stimulation

These strategies concern children from 3 to 5 years-old and stresses the importance for children to develop cognitive and social skills in an accurate pedagogic environment.

Appropriate curriculum

In order to boost school readiness, it is important to have a culturally appropriate curriculum with learning goals, pedagogical strategies and appropriate materials that adapt to the different development stages of children. For instance, pre-primary should offer a play-based curriculum, which helps students transition towards primary education through literacy preparation and the development of cognitive skills.

A coherent overall policy including ECCE and pre-primary programmes should exist to link objectives and enable the follow-up of children’s development. One way to do that is through observation and appropriate assessments at national and local level to monitor children school readiness. Several early learning assessment tools exist:

  • Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) developed by UNESCO, UNICEF and Brookings (U.S. Think Tank);
  • International development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA) developed by Save the Children;
  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS);
  • Child development assessment of children entering primary school developed by UNICEF WCARO;
  • Early Development Instrument (EDI) developed by the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario Canada;
  • East Asia Pacific Early Child Development Scales (EAP-ECDS) developed by the Early Childhood Development, Education and Policy Group, Faculty of Education, and The University of Hong Kong; and
  • Regional Project on Child Development Indicators (PRIDI) developed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
References
Fernald, L.C.H.; Kariger, P.; Engle, P.; Raikes, A. 2009. Examining Early Child Development in Low-Income Countries: A Toolkit for the Assessment of Children in the First Five Years of Life. Washington: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCY/Resources/3957661187899515414/Examining_ECD_Toolkit_FULL.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

Provision of trained workforce (professionalism, quality of teaching and sufficient quantity)

Recruit different types of professionals (teachers, child-care workers, trained university students), preferably coming as much as possible from the community. Give the same modules and pedagogic framework for pre-primary and primary teachers to encourage a coherent pedagogic transition. Pre-primary should be a play-based curriculum while primary should focus on an academic approach. Sound curriculums that are properly articulated can ensure a smooth transition from pre-primary to primary education.

Assign the most experienced teachers to the first grade of primary to make sure children begin their basic education with the best learning conditions and seeking teacher aides to reduce class size and permit tutoring or small group support to students needing help.

Government management of ECCE

Develop coherent policies, with strong communication between different sectors of the government involved in ECCE and pre-primary programmes with clarification of roles and responsibilities of each other.

Make sure to have statutory entitlements of ECCE programmes and strategies based on a functioning data evidence system.

References
Bertram, T.; Pascal, C. 2016. Early Childhood Policies and Systems in Eight Countries: Findings from IEA’s Early Childhood Education Study. Hamburg: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-39847-1

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). n.d. Encouraging Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Research Brief: curriculum matters. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: www.oecd.org/education/school/49322232.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). n.d. Encouraging Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Research Brief: Qualifications, Education and Professional Development Matter. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: www.oecd.org/education/school/49322232.pdf

Rao, N.; Sun, J.; Wong, JMS.; Weekes, B.; I. P.; Shaeffer, S.; Young, M.; Bray, M.; Chen, E.; Lee, D. 2014. Early childhood development and cognitive development in developing countries: A rigorous literature review. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Portals/0/PDF%20reviews%20and%20summaries/ECD%202014%20Rao%20report.pdf?ver=2014-10-02-145634-017

UNESCO. 2012a. Expanding equitable early childhood care and education is an urgent need. Education for All Global Monitoring Report Policy Paper 3. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216038e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015. Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

Vargas-Baron, E. 2005. Planning Policies for Early Childhood Development: Guidelines for Action. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001395/139545e.pdf

Woodhead, M.; Ames, P.: Vennam, U.; Abebe, W.; Streuli, N. 2009. Equity and quality? Challenges for early childhood and primary education in Ethiopia, India and Peru. Bernard van Leer Foundation. Retrieved from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/19304/1/WP_55_Equity_and_Quality.pdf

Other policy options

Conditional or unconditional cash transfers

Conditional and unconditional cash transfers are mostly targeting the most disadvantaged families, with the government being in charge of deciding the way to implement this policy and the people to target. It enables parents to invest in children’s health, nutrition and education according to their choice while encouraging indirectly children’ cognitive development, increasing the psychological well-being of mothers, decreasing financial strain and supporting maternal nutrition and healthcare.

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are targeted cash grants that can be provided to the poorest households, conditional upon the school attendance of primary aged children. This can help alleviate resource constraints that prevent families from sending to children to school, while increasing the immediate returns of education. Careful consideration needs to be given to the targeting method, conditions, size of transfer, and entry and exit rules.

While generally proven effective for increasing primary attendance, an argument against CCTs is that they can require a significant amount of discretionary education spending that could be used for other programmes devoted to educational quality. Their long-term use should, therefore, be weighed against more lasting educational reforms. Additionally, CCTs can be costly to monitor, and can still exclude populations who are most in need of transfers.

Carefully select the targeting methods. This means CCTs can target all poor households with primary aged children, or for example, specifically those that are not sending their children to school. Use methods such as means testing, geographical location, community leader assessments, self-selection.

Select appropriate conditions (such as rate of attendance) and size of transfer, and consider entry and exit rules.

Cash transfers and grants can also be provided to impoverished families without any required conditions, to reduce the need for child labour, and to offset other financial related barriers hindering school attendance. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are less costly to implement, and it is argued that if poverty is the main educational constraint, families will use additional funds towards education, even in the absence of set requirements (UNESCO, 2015). UCTs can also empower households to make their own decisions for their children. However, evidence suggests that when CCTs are based on attendance, CCTs have a greater impact on education than UCTs. Like conditional cash transfers, unconditional transfers should carefully consider targeting methods, and entry and exit rules.

Conditional and unconditional cash transfers are mostly targeting the most disadvantaged families, with the government being in charge of deciding the way to implement this policy and the people to target. It enables parents to invest in children’s health, nutrition and education according to their choice while encouraging indirectly children’ cognitive development, increasing the psychological well-being of mothers, decreasing financial strain and supporting maternal nutrition and healthcare.

However, conditional or unconditional cash transfers are very cumbersome to implement and are at high costs. Many countries cannot sustain it without external support.

*For more information, consult Policy page Constraints to attendance.

Centralised or decentralised management

It is important that governments agree and support pre-primary and ECCE programmes. The management of these programmes can be done at the centralised or decentralised level

On the one hand, different ministries involved in ECCE can collaborate to develop national curriculums to ensure that every child can access to this type of education. However, this should be applied equally to every community for the most disadvantaged families to be attained.

On the other hand, these programmes could be more efficient if they were culturally adapted to the communities. In this respect, teachers and parents could be the one developing the curriculums according to the children’s needs and to make the transition to primary school as smooth as possible. However, this autonomy given to communities would prevent the existence of a national strategy for all children and could lead to create more disparities and inequalities among them.

Private or public funding

ECCE programmes are based on a mix of sources of funding, which include private, public, volunteer and community funding. This implies that parents may have several choices of places where they can send their children to benefit from it. However, it can also create some inequalities of ECCE provision among the different communities in a country since parents sometimes only have a constrained choice.

Government, when it is the major provider of funding, can guarantee a certain stability and equality in the allocation of these financial resources, thus can ensure the sustainability of programmes and impacts on children. In the process, governments should ensure the Abidjan Principles are being upheld (The Abidjan Principles, 2019). Note that in many countries ECCE involves many ministries such as the Ministries of Health, Child Affairs, and Justice.

References
Bertram, T.; Pascal, C. 2016. Early Childhood Policies and Systems in Eight Countries: Findings from IEA’s Early Childhood Education Study. Hamburg: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Retrieved from: www.iea.nl/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Electronic_versions/ECES-policies_and_systems-report.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). n.d. Encouraging Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Research Brief: curriculum matters. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: www.oecd.org/education/school/49322232.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). n.d. Encouraging Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Research Brief: Qualifications, Education and Professional Development Matter. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: www.oecd.org/education/school/49322232.pdf

Rao, N.; Sun, J.; Wong, JMS.; Weekes, B.; I. P.; Shaeffer, S.; Young, M.; Bray, M.; Chen, E.; Lee, D. 2014. Early childhood development and cognitive development in developing countries: A rigorous literature review. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Portals/0/PDF%20reviews%20and%20summaries/ECD%202014%20Rao%20report.pdf?ver=2014-10-02-145634-017

UNESCO. 2012a. Expanding equitable early childhood care and education is an urgent need. Education for All Global Monitoring Report Policy Paper 3. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216038e.pdf

Vargas-Baron, E. 2005. Planning Policies for Early Childhood Development: Guidelines for Action. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001395/139545e.pdf

Woodhead, M.; Ames, P.: Vennam, U.; Abebe, W.; Streuli, N. 2009. Equity and quality? Challenges for early childhood and primary education in Ethiopia, India and Peru. Bernard van Leer Foundation. Retrieved from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/19304/1/WP_55_Equity_and_Quality.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Develop quality gender-responsive Early Childhood Care and Education programmes

Research reveals that children start defining gender since they are two years old, developing their gender identity and become gender-aware from three to five years old, beginning to form stereotypes after they are five years old (which give meaning to themselves and others) and, between the age of five and seven, those stereotypes are rigidly defined (Martin and Ruble, 2004 cited by Murru et al, 2017). This means that gender-responsive ECCE can have a long-lasting impact on the way in which pupils perceive themselves and others (Plan International, 2017; Murru et al., 2017).

Research findings support that ‘ECCE can compensate for disadvantage and vulnerability, regardless of underlying factors such as poverty, gender, […]’ (UNESCO, 2006, cited by UNESCO, 2010: 3). Governments must, therefore, ensure to every child equal, quality gender-responsive Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (Murru et al., 2017; UNESCO, 2007).

Gender-responsive ECCE can positively impact children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, learning, as well as access and retention throughout their educational journey (Murru et al., 2017; UNESCO, 2010; UNESCO, 2007). For instance, girls who attend ECCE programmes ‘are more ready for primary school, cope better, and stay longer than girls who do not’ (UNESCO, 2007: 3) (e.g. ‘The proportion of Nepalese girls and boys with preschool experience enrolling in the first grade of primary education was equal, compared to 39% of girls and 61% boys among the non-participants’ group’ (Arnold and Panday, 2003 cited by UNESCO, 2010: 3). 

References
Murru, A.C.; Nawa-Chimuka, D.; Vandenbosch, T.; Doroba, H. 2017. Gender-responsive pedagogy for early childhood education (GRP4ECE). No. 23 FAWE Conference on Girls’ Education in Africa, 23 August 2017. Lusaka: FAWE Forum for African Women Educationalists). Retrieved from: https://www.vvob.org/sites/belgium/files/fawe_grp4ece_papervvob.pdf

Plan International. 2017. The right to inclusive, quality education. Woking: Plan International. Retrieved from: https://plan-international.org/publications/inclusive-quality-education

UNESCO. 2007. Strong Foundations for Gender Equality in Early Childhood Care and Education – Advocacy Brief.  Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000161195?posInSet=1&queryId=ae8fe20c-6d44-4dc4-b904-07bb645d38d8

UNESCO. 2010. The World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): Building the Wealth of Nations; Conference Concept Paper. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000368780?posInSet=29&queryId=2f8aaaf5-3719-4fde-b471-321a56f7f8b9

Develop legal and policy frameworks to ensure Early Childhood Care and Education programmes are gender-responsive

Develop a legal and policy framework to ensure the right of every child to quality, gender-responsive ECCE provision. Provide sufficient financial resources for ECCE (Chi, 2018; UNESCO, 2007), allocating national and local funds for ECCE provision, providing free services, when possible, and providing financial incentives for disadvantaged families in order to ensure their children’s access to ECCE.

Collect and disaggregate data by sex regarding ECCE. Analyse whether ECCE programmes are meeting their goals and identify major challenges, such as attendance, participation, performance and/or development of girls and boys (UNESCO, 2007).

References
Chi, J. 2018. Pathways for gender equality through early childhood teacher policy in China. Washington, D.C.: The Center for universal Education CUE Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/pathways-for-gender-equality-through-early-childhood-teacher-policy-in-china

UNESCO. 2007. Strong Foundations for Gender Equality in Early Childhood Care and Education – Advocacy Brief.  Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000161195?posInSet=1&queryId=ae8fe20c-6d44-4dc4-b904-07bb645d38d8

Implement gender-responsive curriculum, pedagogy, teaching and learning materials in ECCE programmes

Develop a gender-responsive ECCE curriculum, which should challenge gender constructions and respond to the specific needs of all children. Implement a gender-responsive pedagogy in ECCE programmes through gender-responsive pedagogy in ECCE programmes ‘early childhood educators can support children to reach their full potential and not be constrained by gender expectations’ by counteracting traditional gender patterns and roles (Murru et al., 2017: 10)

ECCE teachers should pay particular attention to child-centred practices and mobilize them to challenge children’s gender construction (Murru et al., 2017). For example, toolkits such as FAWE’s Gender-responsive pedagogy for early childhood education (GRP4ECE) can be used for this purpose (for more information consult Murru et al., 2017).

Ensure teaching and learning materials are gender-responsive and thus free of gender-bias and stereotypes (UNESCO, 2007) (e.g. the way in which women are depicted in books and songs; the toys used by boys and girls; etc.) (For more information on how to make gender-responsive teaching and learning materials consult the following Policy pages Availability and content of textbooks; Availability of teaching aids; and, Teacher guides and lesson plans).

References
Murru, A.C.; Nawa-Chimuka, D.; Vandenbosch, T.; Doroba, H. 2017. Gender-responsive pedagogy for early childhood education (GRP4ECE). No. 23 FAWE Conference on Girls’ Education in Africa, 23 August 2017. Lusaka: FAWE Forum for African Women Educationalists). Retrieved from: https://www.vvob.org/sites/belgium/files/fawe_grp4ece_papervvob.pdf

UNESCO. 2007. Strong Foundations for Gender Equality in Early Childhood Care and Education – Advocacy Brief.  Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000161195?posInSet=1&queryId=ae8fe20c-6d44-4dc4-b904-07bb645d38d8

Provision of trained workforce for the delivery of gender-responsive ECCE

In addition to the strategies proposed in the general section of the present Policy page, it is recommended to:

  • ensure that ECCE workforce is equipped with gender-responsive knowledge, skills, and attitudes through quality training opportunities (Chi, 2018) (e.g. this is one of the three main pillars of Norway’s 2011-2013 plan on early childhood education (Chi, 2018). Uganda’s 2016 ESP highlights this strategy as well);
  • enhance the sharing of knowledge and learning between teachers through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), teacher support networks, mentoring, and constructive feedback (Murru et al., 2017; UNESCO, 2007); and
  • ‘include requirements regarding training in gender-responsive pedagogy into ECCE teacher qualifications’ (Chi, 2018: 12).

*For more policy options concerning gender-responsive content knowledge, consult Policy page Content knowledge.

References
Chi, J. 2018. Pathways for gender equality through early childhood teacher policy in China. Washington, D.C.: The Center for universal Education CUE Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/pathways-for-gender-equality-through-early-childhood-teacher-policy-in-china

Murru, A.C.; Nawa-Chimuka, D.; Vandenbosch, T.; Doroba, H. 2017. Gender-responsive pedagogy for early childhood education (GRP4ECE). No. 23 FAWE Conference on Girls’ Education in Africa, 23 August 2017. Lusaka: FAWE Forum for African Women Educationalists). Retrieved from: https://www.vvob.org/sites/belgium/files/fawe_grp4ece_papervvob.pdf

Uganda. 2016. Ministry of Education and Sports. Gender in Education Sector Policy. Kampala: Ministry of Education and Sports. Retrieved from: https://www.education.go.ug/files/downloads/ GENDER%20IN%20EDUCATION%20SECTOR%20POLICY.pdf

UNESCO. 2007. Strong Foundations for Gender Equality in Early Childhood Care and Education – Advocacy Brief.  Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000161195?posInSet=1&queryId=ae8fe20c-6d44-4dc4-b904-07bb645d38d8

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Political will, legal and policy frameworks to provide quality early childhood education to children with disabilities

Political will is of utmost importance to ensure that all children, particularly the most marginalized and disadvantaged in society, such as children with disabilities, have access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (IBE-UNESCO, 2008a).

Policy and legal frameworks should be developed to ensure universal access to quality, early educational opportunities to all children (UNICEF, 2014a). For example, in 2013, Macedonia approved a new Early Childhood Development law and 27 new sub laws, which provide the legal and policy basis for the provision of early childhood development opportunities for all children, including children with disabilities (UNICEF, 2014a). Ghana, the Gambia and Kenya have developed early childhood development plans for ‘poor, remote and disadvantaged children’ (Tsegaye Tesemma, 2011: 27). Cambodia’s 2005-2015 National Plan for achieving universal basic education incorporated disabilities as one of its cross-cutting themes and included Early Childhood Care and Education ECCE (UNESCO, 2009). Finally, Lesotho encompassed in its 2005-2015 Education Sector Plan ‘the provision for special educational needs in mainstream early education’ (UNESCO, 2009: 2). Belarus has implemented Early Childhood Intervention programme in eight Development Centres (UNESCO, 2009).

In general, the Ministries of Education should ensure that ECCE programmes are inclusive. Initiatives done by NGOs can provide educational planners with a lot of insight. For instance, Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre established in 2003 in Nairobi, Kenya (AbleChildAfrica, n.d.). Save the Children in Armenia supports government policies meant to create inclusive early childhood education programmes through the development of School-based Early Childhood Development services (Sargsyan, 2016).

References
AbleChildAfrica. n.d. Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre. Accessed 17 July 2019: https://www.ablechildafrica.org/our-partners/littlerock-partner/

Sargsyan, I. 2016. Inclusive Early Childhood Development in Armenia. Yerevan: Save the Children. Retrieved from: https://www.easpd.eu/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/Conferences/ Chisinau/presentations/workshop_2_save_the_children_armenia.pdf

Tsegaye Tesemma, S. 2011. Educating Children with Disabilities in Africa: Towards a Policy of Inclusion. Addis Ababa: The African Child Policy forum. Retrieved from: https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/6519.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Inclusion of Children with Disabilities: The Early Childhood Imperative. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000183156

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Early detection of disabilities

Quality, accessible Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) provides the opportunity to detect multiple disabilities in a timely manner (IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal, 2018).

Ministries of Education, in cooperation with teacher training institutes, should ensure that teachers in charge of ECCE programmes are adequately trained and equipped with screening tools to allow them to identify children’s difficulties and disabilities, as well as those at risk of disability (e.g. since 1994 India trains and equips teachers to screen for visual impairments in schools (Rohwerder, 2017).). After such intervention, the school, in cooperation with relevant ministries, can provide appropriate support mechanisms for children with disabilities and their families from the onset, treatment to prevent or stop impairments from exacerbating and, assistive devices.

Ministries of Education must ensure that the screening tools being used at schools are effective. The following aspects should be considered (Rohwerder, 2017):

  • ‘appropriate screening tools must be quick; low cost; acceptable to the community; easy to use by grass root level workers; and have high specificity and sensitivity’ (Robertson et al, 2012, cited by Rohwerder, 2017: 2); and
  • after the screening in-depth assessment and specific follow-up of actions should be ensured (UNICEF, 2013). Although teachers provide the first phase of the screening, it is necessary to coordinate actions with other sectors, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health, in order to put in place a wide-ranging system and provide adequate responses (Rohwerder, 2017). ‘Include a mapping of the available services, the development of referral protocols and the preparation of informative materials for families on how to adjust children’s surroundings to enhance functioning and participation in home and community life’ (UNICEF, 2013: 19). Ensure the family’s and community’s involvement and understanding of screening programmes.
References
DFID (Department for International Development). 2010. Education for children with disabilities: improving access and quality. London: DFID. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67664/edu-chi-disabil-guid-note.pdf

EDT (Education Development Trust); UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Eastern and Southern Africa regional study on the fulfilment of the right to education of children with disabilities. Reading: EDT. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/esaro/Regional-children-with-disabilities-UNICEF-EDT-2016.pdf

GAGE (Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence). 2018. Adolescents with disabilities Gage programme. London : GAGE. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/Adolescents-with-disabilities-GAGE-programme-ODI-report-July-2018.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018. Early childhood education. Accessed 15 August 2019: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/learners-and-support-structures/early-childhood-education

Plan International. 2017. The right to inclusive, quality education. Woking: Plan International. Retrieved from: https://plan-international.org/publications/inclusive-quality-education

Rohwerder, B. 2017. Impact of childhood screening for disability/impairment on education and learning. K4D Helpdesk Report 219. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/impact-of-childhood-screening-for-disability-impairment-on-education-and-learning

Sæbønes, A.-M.; Berman Bieler, R.; Baboo, N.; Banham, L.; Singal, N.; Howgego, C.; Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo, C.; Riis-Hansen, T. C.; Dansie, G. A. 2015. ‘Towards a disability inclusive education’. Background paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, 6-7 July 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/Oslo_Ed_Summit_DisabilityInclusive_Ed.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Parents and community involvement

The parents’ and the community’s involvement is ‘critical in promoting inclusion of children with all types of impairment and in generating low-cost, lasting solutions’ (UNESCO, 2009: 2). Parents’ active involvement through early childhood programmes and early assessments is essential. Parents can gain knowledge about their child’s specific disability, comprehend their needs, and help them optimize their learning potential (UNESCO, 2009; Save the Children, 2006) (e.g. the Early Childhood intervention programme developed in Belarus emphasized the importance of the family’s involvement).

The community should be sensitized on the importance of ECCE programmes for all children, and especially for those with disabilities (UNESCO, 2009d) (e.g. this strategy is included in Uganda’s 2016 ESP (Uganda, 2016).), so as to contribute in detecting disabilities in a timely manner.

For instance, in Mumbai, India, community-based nurseries were developed for 6000 families living in extreme poverty. All of the staff were recruited locally and both children with and without disabilities were enrolled. This approach not only enhanced children’s developmental scores but also contributed to the transition towards mainstream primary schools (UNESCO, 2009).). Build partnerships with Community Based Rehabilitation Centers (e.g. in Ethiopia, the collaboration with CBRs has supported the early identification and assessment of children with disabilities (Ethiopia, 2015).).

References
Ethiopia. Ministry of Education. 2015. Guideline for establishing and managing inclusive education resource/support centers (RCs). Addis Ababa: Federal Ministry of Education. Retrieved from: https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/planipolis/files/ressources/ethiopia_guideline_for_establishing_and_managing_inclusive_education_resource-support_centers.pdf

Save the Children. 2006. Children who have Disability in Early Childhood Care and Development Centres: A Resource Book for Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/ECCD_Disability_Manual.pdf

Uganda. 2016. Ministry of Education and Sports. Gender in Education Sector Policy. Kampala: Ministry of Education and Sports. Retrieved from: https://www.education.go.ug/files/downloads/GENDER%20IN%20EDUCATION%20SECTOR%20POLICY.pdf

UNESCO Office New Delhi. 2019. State of the Education Report for India 2019 Children with Disabilities. New Delhi: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000368780?posInSet=29&queryId=2f8aaaf5-3719-4fde-b471-321a56f7f8b9

UNESCO. 2009. Inclusion of Children with Disabilities: The Early Childhood Imperative. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000183156

UNESCO. 2009d. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

Inclusive curriculum and teaching methods

ECCE programmes must ensure that curriculum and teaching methods are inclusive, with teachers effectively addressing the learning needs and abilities of all children, including children with disabilities.

The curriculum in ECCE programmes is described as ‘developmental rather than academic’ (UNICEF, 2014: 11). Inclusive ECCE curriculum is meant to support children’s holistic development and readiness to school, by helping them acquire not only cognitive and language skills, but also behavioural and emotional ones (UNICEF, 2014).

*For specific policy options concerning inclusive curriculum and teaching methods consult the Policy pages Curriculum, Classroom practices, Teaching skills.

References
Save the Children. 2006. Children who have Disability in Early Childhood Care and Development Centres: A Resource Book for Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/ECCD_Disability_Manual.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Inclusion of Children with Disabilities: The Early Childhood Imperative. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000183156

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Inclusive Pre-School Programmes: Webinar 9 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Provision of the trained workforce (professionalism, quality of teaching and sufficient quantity)

In addition to the strategies proposed in the general section of the present Policy page, it is necessary to ensure that the ECCE workforce is adequately trained to include children with disabilities within their classrooms and respond to their particular needs. Pre-service and in-service training must include knowledge, practical skills, expertise, attitudes and values which will allow them to teach children with disabilities. (For specific policy options consult Policy page Content knowledge).

References
UNESCO. 2009d. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

Policies for displaced populations

Promising policy options

Children’s mental health and socio-emotional wellbeing

Young children are especially vulnerable to stressors in their surroundings, such as violence, neglect, hunger, abuse, and the effects of poverty (Jalbout and Bullard, 2021). Displaced children often live through trauma, conflict, and toxic stress in their most formative years, which can have wide ramifications on their mental health and overall wellbeing (Jalbout and Bullard, 2021). Most notably, exposure to these types of traumatic events during a child’s upbringing can carry deep consequences in their lifelong learning: it hinders their development, impacts their short-term memory, affects their emotional intelligence, and may result in mental health issues in later years (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018; UNICEF, 2019 as cited in Jalbout and Bullard, 2021).

Since a child’s learning ability and school readiness is dependent upon their mental health and wellbeing, it is key to prioritise the emotional needs of displaced children from early childhood, if educational stakeholders want future teaching efforts to be truly effective (Cerna, 2019). Not all displaced children’s needs will be immediately visible, so after preschool, schools need to carry out continuous assessments of the children’s wellbeing and provide support as early and regularly as possible (Cerna, 2019). This support can be provided in the form of Psychosocial Support (PSS) and Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL), together with a school environment that welcomes displaced children and promotes students’ wellbeing (Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017).

Early childhood centres and preschools –as well as primary and secondary schools later on– can be a healing environment if children feel supported, and the focus relies not only on learning but also on the issues that may hinder a child’s learning ability (Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017).

References
Cerna, L. 2019. Refugee Education: Integration Models and Practices in OECD Countries. OECD Education Working Paper No. 203. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=EDU/WKP(2019)11&docLanguage=En

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

Jalbout, M.; Bullard, K. 2021. Ensuring Quality Early Childhood Education for Refugee Children: A New Approach to Teacher Professional Development. Theirworld Report. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Ensuring-Quality-Early-Childhood-Education-for-Refugee-Children-A-New-Approach-to-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

Save the Children; UNHCR; Pearson. 2017. Promising practices in refugee education: Synthesis Report. Retrieved from: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/pdf/promising_practices_in_refugee_education_synthesis_report_final_web.pdf/

Displaced population’s access to healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene, and proper nutrition

Children affected by forced displacements often lack access to healthcare, social protection, sanitation, nutrition, and other important services for extended periods of time (UNICEF, 2016). As explained below, these situations can precipitate overwhelming obstacles for families and communities at large (UNICEF, 2016). This is why States must ensure that all children (and their parents, guardians, or those responsible for their wellbeing), have access as early as possible to suitable services and provisions regarding healthcare, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and proper nutrition (CRC, 2006; UNICEF, 2016).

Access to healthcare is a fundamental right for all, including displaced populations. Every effort should be made for displaced populations to join national health systems at affordable costs (UNHCR, 2022). This strategy is aligned with both the Global Compact on Refugees and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (UNHCR, 2022). It is key to put in place coordination mechanisms among different health services and early childhood centres (and/or preschools) so that children’s [and families’] health needs are met. Displaced populations, especially at early ages, are at risk of contracting preventable diseases (such as polio or measles) due to lack of immunization, developing nutritional deficiencies, having poor dental health, and succumbing to diseases such as tuberculosis or hepatitis B (Cerna, 2019; UNHCR, 2022). This is why it is key for States to form alliances with local partners and early childhood centres to help recognise barriers to immunisation in displaced communities (UNHCR, 2022).

States should also ensure that displaced populations, particularly those living and studying in camp settings, have safe access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities (UNHCR, n.d.b.). Stakeholders working on WASH infrastructures in camps should work closely with stakeholders in charge of public health and nutrition to address ‘potential causes of waterborne disease and malnutrition, and reduce the [public] health risks associated with poor water, and poor sanitation and hygiene services and practices’ (UNHCR, n.d.b.: 1).

Finally, States should ensure that displaced populations have access to adequate nutrition (UNHCR, n.d.a.). Nutrition assessments can be used to recognise the extent of malnutrition, identify those at immediate risk, and take appropriate action (UNHCR, n.d.a.). Special attention should be given to breastfeeding mothers and young children, to receive food in a timely manner, since lack of assistance in these cases can result in severe malnutrition and even death (UNHCR, n.d.a.). It is important to note that if food security is not assured, displaced populations are likely to ‘adopt unsafe coping mechanisms that endanger their security’ (UNHCR, n.d.a: 1).

References
CRC (Committee on the Rights of the Child). 2006. General comment No. 7 (2005): Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood. CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1. Retrieved from: https://www.refworld.org/docid/460bc5a62.html

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). 2022. Access to healthcare. Accessed 7 March 2022: https://www.unhcr.org/access-to-healthcare.html

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). n.d.a. ‘Nutrition in camps’. In: Emergency Handbook. Accessed 7 March 2022: https://emergency.unhcr.org/entry/31375/nutrition-in-camps

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). n.d.b. ‘WASH in camps’. In: Emergency Handbook. Accessed 7 March 2022: https://emergency.unhcr.org/entry/39929/wash-in-camps

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Education Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children. New York: UNICEF. https://data.unicef.org/resources/uprooted-growing-crisis-refugee-migrant-children/

Provide quality early childhood and pre-primary education to all displaced children

The earliest years of a child’s life, from before they are born until they reach 8 years of age, are the most important formative years that create the foundation of their later life through the development of the ‘brain’s architecture’ (UNICEF, 2014, as cited in Jalbout and Bullard, 2021). These years are essential for the child’s development, thus, access to education, opportunities to play and a positive environment have the biggest effect to help them build social skills, learn wider vocabulary, build resilience and gain the ability to cope with conflict and stress (Jalbout and Bullard, 2021; UNICEF, 2016; UNICEF, 2019). Failing to provide quality education during this decisive time in a child’s life can affect their chances to complete school, and increase their chances to experience mental health issues in later years (UNESCO, 2018a; UNICEF, 2019).

The importance to safeguard a child’s earliest years carries the challenge of creating more safe and adequate spaces for children to learn, play, and interact with others (Jalbout and Bullard, 2021). Many host countries don’t have the capacity or infrastructure to provide early childhood education to displaced children as they arrive (UNESCO, 2019). Indeed, evidence suggests that early childhood education for refugees is severely limited, to the extent that host countries’ responses to the needs of young refugees have been described as “extraordinarily weak”, reflecting the low priority they are given throughout government levels (UNESCO, 2018b). Yet, every effort must be made to provide quality early childhood education to all displaced populations, since, as highlighted above, the lack of such education has significant lifetime repercussions (OECD, 2018, as cited in Cerna, 2019).

It is key to ensure displaced children’s access to the formal, public early childhood and preschool system, as far as capacity allows it (The Abidjan Principles, 2019; Jalbout and Bullard, 2021; CRC, 2006). When this is not possible, decision-makers and planners should collaborate with international development and humanitarian partners, NGOs and civil society organisations to create mechanisms that help ensure early childhood education to displaced children. In the case of private provision of early childhood education, States must make sure that there are regulations in place, as well as monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure their quality (The Abidjan Principles, 2019; Jalbout and Bullard, 2021).

Incentives should also be put in place to encourage displaced families to enrol their children in early childhood centres and preschools. For example, Norway provides free kindergarten time for low-income families (UNESCO, 2019). Yet, incentives should be accompanied by appropriate national legislation and regulations to ensure early childhood and preschool education for all displaced children. For example, France, Italy, and Serbia have passed laws and no-discrimination policies that allow every child to be enrolled in preschool, regardless of their nationality (UNESCO, 2019).

To explore further

For more information about the different approaches to refugee early childhood education, consult four case studies included in Jalbout and Bullard, 2021.

References
Jalbout, M.; Bullard, K. 2021. Ensuring Quality Early Childhood Education for Refugee Children: A New Approach to Teacher Professional Development. Theirworld Report. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Ensuring-Quality-Early-Childhood-Education-for-Refugee-Children-A-New-Approach-to-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf
References
Cerna, L. 2019. Refugee Education: Integration Models and Practices in OECD Countries. OECD Education Working Paper No. 203. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=EDU/WKP(2019)11&docLanguage=En

CRC (Committee on the Rights of the Child). 2006. General comment No. 7 (2005): Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood. CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1. Retrieved from: https://www.refworld.org/docid/460bc5a62.html

Jalbout, M.; Bullard, K. 2021. Ensuring Quality Early Childhood Education for Refugee Children: A New Approach to Teacher Professional Development. Theirworld Report. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Ensuring-Quality-Early-Childhood-Education-for-Refugee-Children-A-New-Approach-to-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

UNESCO. 2018a. Ensuring the right to equitable and inclusive quality education: Results of the ninth consultation on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education.  Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000251463?1=null&queryId=b0c326e6-09da-482d-9977-35e77a1f949e

UNESCO. 2018b. Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Migration, Displacement and Education – Building Bridges, not Walls. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265866

UNESCO. 2019. Enforcing the right to education of refugees: a policy perspective. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000366839

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Education Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children. New York: UNICEF. https://data.unicef.org/resources/uprooted-growing-crisis-refugee-migrant-children/

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. A World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education. Global Report. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/57926/file/A-world-ready-to-learn-advocacy-brief-2019.pdf

Teacher training and support for early childhood education

It is key to provide a trained and sufficient teaching workforce to ensure quality early childhood education opportunities. This is nevertheless a key challenge in many countries around the world, particularly low-middle income countries. Jalbout and Bullard (2021) provide various strategies to address this issue:

  • Teachers should have easy access to basic science regarding early childhood development, and should learn about ‘the role of nurturing relationships in mitigating the impacts of toxic stress’ (2021: 6).
  • Schools and education systems at large should develop virtual groups in which early childhood and preschool teachers can support each other, as well as foster peer learning.
  • Refugee teachers should receive training and training credentials from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to allow them to enter early childhood centres and preschools.
  • Studies into evidence-based research should be carried out to learn what works best regarding early childhood education, and why. Different approaches can be observed, for example on the strategies applied to teaching, learning environments, playtime, etc.
References
Jalbout, M.; Bullard, K. 2021. Ensuring Quality Early Childhood Education for Refugee Children: A New Approach to Teacher Professional Development. Theirworld Report. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Ensuring-Quality-Early-Childhood-Education-for-Refugee-Children-A-New-Approach-to-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

Parents and community involvement

Two of the biggest barriers for young displaced children to access early childhood and preschool education are lack of information for families and communities, and lack of funds to provide this type of education (Cerna, 2019; Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017).

Awareness campaigns for parents, guardians, and other displaced community members are critical for them to learn about early childhood development, its importance, and the impact that education has on children’s lives and the future of the community (INEE, 2010; Jalbout and Bullard, 2021; Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017; UNESCO, 2018b; UNESCO, 2019; UNICEF, 2019). Once communities are aware of the importance of early childhood and preschool education, they can become more involved in creating solutions to ensure every child has access to education from an early age (States, NGOs and international development and humanitarian partners should support communities in this process) (INEE, 2010; Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017).

A great example of this is shown by the iACT Little Ripples initiative for refugee camps in Chad, which is a community-led early childhood programme (Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017). This solution has the added value of providing culturally relevant education, and it has been so sustainable that communities themselves have been able to grow and replicate the program without requiring outside help (Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017). Furthermore, this approach requires very little building costs (since the preschool programs are carried out in existing home spaces within the camp setting) (Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson, 2017).

References
Cerna, L. 2019. Refugee Education: Integration Models and Practices in OECD Countries. OECD Education Working Paper No. 203. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=EDU/WKP(2019)11&docLanguage=En

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2010. Guidance notes on teaching and learning. New York: INEE. Retrieved from: http://toolkit.ineesite.org/toolkit/INEEcms/uploads/1004/Guidance_Notes_on_Teaching_and_Learning_EN.pdf

Jalbout, M.; Bullard, K. 2021. Ensuring Quality Early Childhood Education for Refugee Children: A New Approach to Teacher Professional Development. Theirworld Report. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Ensuring-Quality-Early-Childhood-Education-for-Refugee-Children-A-New-Approach-to-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

Save the Children; UNHCR; Pearson. 2017. Promising practices in refugee education: Synthesis Report. Retrieved from: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/pdf/promising_practices_in_refugee_education_synthesis_report_final_web.pdf/

UNESCO. 2018b. Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Migration, Displacement and Education – Building Bridges, not Walls. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265866

UNESCO. 2019. Enforcing the right to education of refugees: a policy perspective. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000366839

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. A World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education. Global Report. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/57926/file/A-world-ready-to-learn-advocacy-brief-2019.pdf

Other policy options

Catch-up and accelerated school readiness programmes

Displacement is usually accompanied by education interruptions and, in many cases, reduced schooling (Cerna, 2019). Ministries of Education, with the support of international partners, should ensure standardised, adequate, flexible, culturally-sensitive, and intensive catch-up programmes to address displaced students’ needs and ensure their school readiness (Cerna, 2019; UNESCO, 2018b; Global Education Monitoring Report Team and UNHCR, 2016; INEE, 2010). Those programmes should be included in education sector plans –or any other relevant educational planning document– to secure adequate resources and materials, and, more importantly, ensure that students entering mainstream settings are adequately prepared to do so (UNESCO, 2018b). (To learn more about catch up programmes consult Policy page Individual learning needs.)

States must put in place temporary measures until preschool and early childhood education programmes can be provided to all displaced children. Several countries use the Accelerated School Readiness (ASR) model for this purpose (UNICEF, 2019). For example, in Ethiopia, Schools carry out surveys to classify children who are eligible for the program. Their ASR plan comprises 150 hours of accelerated schooling for children entering grade 1, who did not attend pre-primary (UNICEF, 2019). These programmes provide States with low-cost, interim solutions, but it is important to note that every effort must be made to provide stable, long-term solutions or early childhood and pre-primary education.

To explore further

To learn more about accelerated school readiness programmes, consult:

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. Innovation Case Study: Accelerated School Readiness Programme. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/evaluation/media/901/file/Accelerated%20School%20Readiness%20Programme.pdf
References
Cerna, L. 2019. Refugee Education: Integration Models and Practices in OECD Countries. OECD Education Working Paper No. 203. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=EDU/WKP(2019)11&docLanguage=En

Global Education Monitoring Report Team; UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). 2016. Policy Paper 26: No more excuses: provide education to all forcibly displaced people. Paris: UNSECO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000244847

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2010. Guidance notes on teaching and learning. New York: INEE. Retrieved from: http://toolkit.ineesite.org/toolkit/INEEcms/uploads/1004/Guidance_Notes_on_Teaching_and_Learning_EN.pdf

UNESCO. 2018b. Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Migration, Displacement and Education – Building Bridges, not Walls. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265866

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. A World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education. Global Report. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/57926/file/A-world-ready-to-learn-advocacy-brief-2019.pdf

Policies for minority populations

Promising policy options

Ensuring minority’s basic needs

Strategies included in the general section of the present Policy page must be implemented paying special attention to minority populations. In particular, ensuring access to health services, adequate nutrition, and WASH facilities is key for minority, marginalized groups, who have in general lower access to those basic services (UNICEF, 2019; CRC, 2006).

Malnutrition threatens millions of children worldwide, which presents broad repercussions for education (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015; UNESCO, 2010). Hunger, which in many cases is experienced even before birth, impairs cognitive development and represents a crucial barrier to education: lack of nutrition impairs education, and lack of education reinforces health inequality, with its ripple effects being seen through generations (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015; UNESCO, 2010).

States must address nutrition and health for children, mothers and children’s guardians, as a matter of an ‘education emergency’ (UNESCO 2010: 42), especially in the case of indigenous populations and other minority groups, who are at higher risk (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015; CRC, 2006; UNICEF, 2019). Education systems must place special attention on ensuring basic needs during children’s earliest years since interventions at an earlier age can have the biggest impact (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015).

References
Chowbey, P.; Garrick, R.; Harrop, D. 2015. Preparing minority ethnic children for starting primary school: Integrating health and education. A Race Equality Foundation Briefing Paper. London: Race Equality Foundation. Retrieved from: https://raceequalityfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Health-Briefing-35.pdf

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). 2006. General comment No. 7 (2005): Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood. CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1. Retrieved from: https://www.refworld.org/docid/460bc5a62.html

UNESCO. 2010. Education for All: Reaching the marginalized. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000186606

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. A World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education. Global Report. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/57926/file/A-world-ready-to-learn-advocacy-brief-2019.pdf

Increase enrolment and provide quality early childhood and pre-primary education to all minority populations

Increasing enrolment to early childhood centres and preschools, and improving the quality of this education for minorities could significantly narrow the gap in school readiness based on ethnicity, so that all children may enter primary school on equal terms (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005). Early childhood and pre-primary education have the biggest impact on children’s neurological development (UNESCO, 2018). However, at this critical age, studies have identified that ‘both the share of children enrolled in these [education] programs and the quality of care they receive differ by race and ethnicity’ (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005: 169).

Some issues that might widen the education gap between minority and non-minority groups are the low likelihood of minority children to be enrolled in good quality programs, and their lower attendance rates (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005). This is why States must address both issues while taking children’s backgrounds into account. Quality of early childhood education and preschool is particularly important because it is a decisive factor in closing learning gaps at an early stage, before school entry (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005).

To achieve this, States must enact education policies directed towards minority populations. Making enrolment free for three- and four-year-olds, and ensuring a high quality of care in all centres has shown promising results (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005). Furthermore, Ministries of Education should allocate budgets to promote early childhood education for minority children. Funds may be used in awareness campaigns and to increase the quality of the preschools that minorities attend (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005). Regarding early childhood and preschool private provision, it is key to monitor and enforce regulations (The Abidjan Principles, 2019).

Various countries have put in place measures to increase the enrolment of minority children into early childhood centres and preschools. In Australia, for example, the government has taken steps to ensure pre-primary education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; Turkey has developed ‘mobile preschools’ to reach minority children; Serbia offers free, compulsory preschool education to Roma children, to prepare them for school entry; Bulgaria offers preschool reception programmes for Roma children and their parents; and overall, several countries have recognised that concentrating on providing quality preschool programmes leads to lasting results in minority’s education (UNESCO, 2018).

References
Magnuson, K.A.; Waldfogel, J. 2005. ‘Early childhood care and education: effects on ethnic and racial gaps in school readiness’. In: The Future of children, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 169-196. Retrieved from: https://core.ac.uk/reader/161441903?utm_source=linkout 

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

UNESCO. 2018. Ensuring the right to equitable and inclusive quality education: Results of the ninth consultation on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education.  Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000251463?1=null&queryId=b0c326e6-09da-482d-9977-35e77a1f949e

Culturally-responsive, mother-tongue early childhood programmes

Minorities are faced with more barriers to education than other groups, and key amongst them is the language of learning and teaching (UNICEF, 2019; UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). The use of Mother Tongue (MT) in early childhood and pre-primary education is very rare, which causes unnecessary distress for children whose cultural identity is stifled, and who must accommodate to mainstream settings, where they have difficulty understanding the language (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

Research findings on the impact of MT-based learning on minority populations show that it provides ‘higher enrolment and achievement (in all subjects) and lower repetition and drop-out rates for children of minority groups often excluded from school and from learning’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020: 13). MT-based teaching has also shown great benefits for the children’s wellbeing (especially girls), who become more confident and have higher self-esteem (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). Finally, education systems must prepare minority students to enter school on equal footing to non-minority students, by using MT as the language of instruction in early childhood education programmes (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

Moreover, governments must focus on providing quality education for minorities, especially at the preschool level, because the crucial years before school starts can be defining to the education gap between minority and non-minority groups; and critically decisive regarding minority individuals’ future development, wellbeing, and role in society (Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2005; UNESCO, 2018; UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). Providing quality education for minorities at this stage can be achieved by creating appropriate, culturally-responsive and MT-based curricula (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

Ensuring the availability of quality pre-primary programs in rural areas, where minorities live is of key importance (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). Moreover, decision-makers and planners must keep in mind that applying a culturally-responsive, MT approach requires teacher training, community involvement, availability of textbooks and learning materials in the respective MT as well as ensuring that any potential bias in the curriculum and pedagogy are identified and rectified. For more information, refer toPolicy pages Textbook availability and content, Curriculum development, Student learning assessments, and Individual learning needs.

References
Magnuson, K.A.; Waldfogel, J. 2005. ‘Early childhood care and education: effects on ethnic and racial gaps in school readiness’. In: The Future of children, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 169-196. Retrieved from: https://core.ac.uk/reader/161441903?utm_source=linkout 

UNESCO. 2018. Ensuring the right to equitable and inclusive quality education: Results of the ninth consultation on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education.  Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000251463?1=null&queryId=b0c326e6-09da-482d-9977-35e77a1f949e

UNESCO Bangkok. 2020. Mother Tongue and Early Childhood Care and Education: Synergies and Challenges. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374419

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2019. A World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education. Global Report. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/57926/file/A-world-ready-to-learn-advocacy-brief-2019.pdf

Parents and community involvement

Informing parents and communities at large about the importance of early childhood education is key. Indeed, many parents consider that early childhood education is unnecessary since they believe ‘the home environment is good enough’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020: 16). Furthermore, parents in minority populations often face the added barriers of having to travel long distances for their children to attend preschool, which deters their enrolment as well (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

Research shows that parents are not aware of the importance of culturally-responsive and MT-based learning for their children’s development and mental health, so they wrongly assume that being taught in the national language from the beginning will help them throughout their education and later life (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). Given the importance of both attendance in good quality pre-primary programmes, and MT as the language of instruction at an early age, advocacy must be carried out within minority communities, and good programmes must be made available within reasonable distances (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

When reaching out to the community through advocacy programmes, it is important to build relationships with the parents or guardians, since collaborative arrangements are key to ‘understanding and supporting the children as individuals’ (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015: 8). Furthermore, strong relationships with the parents or guardians will make the switch to primary school easier and more effective for the families (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015).

Involving the community can also bring further advantages since members can share their culture, art, stories, and knowledge throughout early childhood education programmes (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). For these alliances to work, schools must be aware of ‘religious and cultural needs, migration issues and socio-economic circumstances’ of parents, guardians and other community members (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015: 8).

Finally, it is important to note that advocacy is also required within ministries of education, especially in ‘societies where some members of the dominant language group and culture feel somehow threatened by the non-dominant groups in their midst’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020: 16).

References
Chowbey, P.; Garrick, R.; Harrop, D. 2015. Preparing minority ethnic children for starting primary school: Integrating health and education. A Race Equality Foundation Briefing Paper. London: Race Equality Foundation. Retrieved from: https://raceequalityfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Health-Briefing-35.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2020. Mother Tongue and Early Childhood Care and Education: Synergies and Challenges. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374419

Other policy options

Recruiting and training indigenous and other minority community members as teachers

A potential strategy to provide culturally relevant, mother-tongue, early childhood and pre-primary education to minority children is to recruit indigenous and other minority community members as teachers while ensuring their training (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020). It is important to note that, in some cases, recruiting minority teachers may require an official waiver of academic qualifications, if there are no qualified applicants for the role (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

The impact of their involvement can go further, they can be advocates for education within their communities, and provide support for the children and their families alike (Chowbey, Garrick and Harrop, 2015; UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).

References
Chowbey, P.; Garrick, R.; Harrop, D. 2015. Preparing minority ethnic children for starting primary school: Integrating health and education. A Race Equality Foundation Briefing Paper. London: Race Equality Foundation. Retrieved from: https://raceequalityfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Health-Briefing-35.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2020. Mother Tongue and Early Childhood Care and Education: Synergies and Challenges. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374419
Updated on 2022-03-14

Related Articles

Back to top