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The findings > Thematic Studies> ECCD>Part 1
  Country EFA reports
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I. INTRODUCTION
   
  A. Origins and purposes of this report
   
 
  This document has been commissioned as a contribution to the Year 2000 Assessment of Education for All (EFA). That assessment is being carried out in order to describe and examine global and national changes that have occurred in basic education and learning since the World Conference on Education for All was held in Jomtien Thailand in March of 1990. The results of the EFA Assessment will be used as a basis for discussing what can and should be done in the future to improve the learning and education of children. The discussion will occur first at regional meetings and then at the Global Conference in Dakar, Senegal in April of 2000.
   
 
 

The particular topic of this review - early childhood care and development, or ECCD - emerged at Jomtien as an important extension of the more traditional approach to basic education that saw "education" as beginning with entrance into school. Specifically, the Jomtien Declaration stated that:

"Learning begins at birth. This calls for early childhood care and initial education. These can be provided through arrangements involving families, communities or institutional programmes, as appropriate."

   
 
  Moreover, the Framework for Action fashioned at the World Conference set as one of the targets to be considered by signatories in their plans for the 1990s: "Expansion of early childhood care and development activities, including family and community interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged and disabled children."
   
 
  Thus, the Jomtien Declaration and Framework gave international presence and sanction to early childhood care and development and to "initial education" in a way that it had not enjoyed previously, even during the 1979 "Year of the Child." For some, the recognition of attention to learning during the pre-school years and to ECCD as part of basic education represented a triumph. Expectations ran high.
   
 
  But what has happened since March 1990? Did early childhood care and development activities get incorporated into national plans? Has early childhood care and development made significant advances? How are these defined? What conditions have helped or hindered advance? What problems remain? Where should we go from here?
   
 
  In trying to respond to these questions, we will first look briefly at the broader context, noting changes in broad conditions that preceded and/or that characterise the 1990s. Then, trends and "advances" will be described in relation to: 1) the well-being of children, 2) enrolments, 3) conditions favouring improvement in ECCD programmes, and 4) shifts in the kinds and qualities of programmes being provided. Finally, some continuing (or new) problems will be identified and suggestions will be offered for trying to overcome problems and meet challenges as we look ahead.
   
 
  I n this document, emphasis will be placed on ECCD in the "Majority World" with passing references to Western Europe, the United States, and other countries of the "Minority World." There are two reasons for this decision. The first is that there is a tendency for programmes in these countries to be taken as the template or standard for development of ECCD in the future. Although it is clear that ideas can be obtained from past experience in these countries, other countries must be counted on to develop their own systems appropriate to their particular circumstances. Second, most of these countries have seen their role in the EFA exercise as so-called "donor" countries and have not reported on their own advances or setbacks in the field.
   
 
  B. Methodology
   
 
 

The information necessary to carry out this review and analysis comes from three main sources:

1. A review of literature has been undertaken, relying heavily on the accumulation of documents that have been amassed by the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development over the last 15 years, but also drawing on recent material provided specifically in relation to this review.

2. Country reports prepared as part of the more general EFA Assessment have been reviewed in order to extract the statistics and general comments found in these reviews dealing with early childhood care and education. The quality of the country reviews, their treatment of ECCD, and the availability of statistics varied widely from country to country. It has been possible also to draw on summaries from the Johannesburg and Bangkok regional EFA meetings and on documents other than the country reports.

3. To supplement the more quantitative treatment expected from country reports and realising that it might be difficult to come by reliable data, a survey was also carried out of "knowledgeable people" in different geographic, disciplinary and organisational settings. A qualitative analysis has been done of the 62 replies received to five general questions. The combined early childhood experience of the respondents amounted to over 1000 years. Additional details about the characteristics of those who responded can be found in Appendix 1. The analysis will be reported in greater detail in a subsequent publication; results have been drawn upon selectively in the text.

   
 
  C. A Note on Terminology
   
 
  In this document, the phrase "Early Childhood Care and Development", abbreviated to ECCD, will be used throughout. This phrase was used in the Jomtien Framework for Action. I realise that placing emphasis on care and development may lead some to think that this paper has little to do with "education" or "learning". But this is precisely the point: education systems are, whether they recognise it or not, also systems of care and they should be directed toward promoting the integral development of the children in the system, not just toward preparing children for school. Accordingly, I have chosen to use this phrase in order to promote a broad and integral view of learning and education. "Learning" and "education" are embedded in care and development.
   
 
  Among the other valid terms that might have been used (and that may have some tactical advantages are: Early Childhood Care and (Initial) Education (taken from the Jomtien Declaration and preferred by UNESCO), Early Childhood Education and Care (being used by OECD), Early Childhood Care for Survival, Growth and Development (the current terminology used by UNICEF), or Early Childhood Development (favoured by the World Bank).
 
 
 
 
 
 
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