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The findings > Thematic Studies> ECCD>Part 4
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IV Tendencies: Changes in Conditions Affecting ECCD Programming .
 

In addition to changes in the demographic, economic, social and political contexts noted earlier, a host of more immediate changes affecting ECCD were noted in country reports and by knowledgeable people These include changes in:

1. Knowledge and its dissemination: the conceptual base and scientific base available to be drawn upon and the formation of communication networks;

2. Attitudes and awareness of political leaders, funders, planners and the population at large about the importance of ECCD and its potential benefits

3. Changes in policies and in legal and legislative frameworks for programming, internationally and nationally;

4. The availability of resources, both financial and human;

5. Organisational bases, strengthened and consolidated, both governmental and non-governmental.

The Changing Knowledge Base and Conceptual Shifts. The most frequently mentioned advance in knowledge related to ECCD during the 1990s was an advance in understanding how the brain develops and functions. To many survey respondents, it was clear that new discoveries in neuroscience and their dissemination through scientific, professional and popular channels has had an important influence on the demand for, and the willingness to consider support for, early childhood education and development programmes.

Also mentioned with some frequency was a growing body of knowledge coming from research studies and programme evaluations showing long-term benefits of early intervention programmes for children at risk (Karoly 1998; Boocock and Barnett, 1998; Schweinhart, et.al., 1994). It is now possible to point to longitudinal studies in various countries of the Majority World as well as studies in Europe, the United States and elsewhere in the Minority World, that show clearly how ECCD programmes can have effects on children in primary school. A prime example of such Majority World research is the excellent work done in Turkey in which children cared for in different settings, and whose mothers participated in a parental education programme, were shown to benefit later on. (Kagicibasi 1996; Bekman 1998) These studies have helped to convince policy makers and programmers of the value of investing in ECCD. They reinforce the Jomtien commitment to including early education within basic education.

Other new avenues of research that are beginning to influence practice include studies of: "resilience" (Luthar, Cicchetti and Becker forthcoming), conditions under which programs can have a negative affect on child development (see work of Kathy Sylva at the London Institute of Education), and childrearing practices and patterns (Consultative Group 1994).

A range of conceptual shifts that seem to be "in process" were also noted by survey respondents. For instance:

- Although a behaviourist model that is not very "child friendly" still holds sway in some countries, there has been a shift toward active learning and toward the constructivist ideas of Piaget. Even more, although the ideas of Piaget have had a strong influence on early childhood curricula and practices, particularly in the Majority World and in Latin America, a shift has been noted toward programs based on the thinking of Vygotsky. While not contradicting Piaget, Vygotsky places greater emphasis on social and cultural influences that affect all aspects of children's development (as contrasted with emphasis on individual discovery) and gives renewed importance to the role of the teacher and to the place of language in the teaching/learning process (Berk and Winsler 1995).

- The influence of and ecological and transactional models that gained prominence in the 1980s continues to provide a basis for complementary approaches to ECCD that work toward changing the family, community and broader institutional and cultural environments with which a child interacts in the process of developing and learning.

- The search for "best practices" which took flight in the 1980s continues, but the chorus of those who question the search for universals and the base for best practices in developmental psychology has grown ever louder (Woodhead, 1996). Additional importance is being attached to discovering, respecting, and incorporating cultural differences into thinking about how early childhood education and care "should" occur. (Penn, 1999) Viewpoints grounded in anthropology, sociology, ethics and other fields are being brought to bear on the field, highlighting the need to begin with the cultural and social definitions of childhood and education held by those who are the participants in early childhood programmes rather than with a pre-determined set of definitions and models imposed from "outside." (Dahlberg, Moss and Pence 1999) This tendency is consistent with a strand of thinking about social and economic development that is grounded in local participation, and in "putting the first last." (Chambers 1997)

Comment: The search for "best" practices need not be a search for practices that will be everywhere the same although that seems to be the implication. What is thought to be "best" or "most effective" must be defined in terms of some set of values and these values will differ. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international conventions provide general frameworks that attempt to capture a set of shared values. For example, various conventions, including the Rights of the Child, indicate that there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender. Nevertheless, certain forms of discrimination against women and girls are embedded in the value system of some cultures, creating a conflict between local values and "international" values that needs to be resolved. Another authority to which international advocates appeal and which is sometimes at odds with local cultural values, is Western science. For instance, Western research seems to show that physical punishment has detrimental affects on children, yet many cultures accept and even recommend physical punishment, feeling that in a cruel and unjust world it is the strong who survive.

To try and overcome inevitable tensions between international and local expressions of what "should be" a third path has been evolving in which:

1. The search for "best" practices begins by looking for and supporting those practices that are valued both in terms of traditional wisdom based on experience and in terms of their scientific value.

2. A process is established in which points of difference are handled through dialogue, values are made explicit and knowledge from both traditional wisdom and from recent scientific discoveries is presented and openly discussed. In such a dialogue, the Minority World or its local representatives should seek to learn from as well as impose its views.

This process can lead to understanding of the legitimate bases for different practices. It helps narrow or conciliate apparent differences and sometimes even validate them in new ways. For instance, many indigenous childrearing and teaching practices, which may not be similar to Western practices are nevertheless being validated by recent neuroscience research because they effectively stimulate the child. A process of dialogue and reflection helps to identify changing circumstances that may require changes in practices and opens up the possibility of incorporating new knowledge and new practices into childrearing that are seen as valuable from inside cultures as they seek their adjustments to a changing and ever more inter-related world, without, however, violating the process of honoring and constructing cultural heritage.

.Consistent with the above, new knowledge and support for conceptual shifts is emerging also from experience on the ground within a host of new programmes that have appeared during the decade, many still small in coverage and conceived as experiments. Increasingly, however, programmes have been "going to scale" and, in the process, providing knowledge about how that can happen when programmes grow big and about what kinds of results may be expected under different conditions. During the decade more evaluations of, and systematic reflections about, ECCD project and programme experiences have appeared than in the past. More generally, however, evaluation has not been made an integral and continuous part of the ECCD programme process.

Participants in the survey of knowledgeable people were asked to indicate examples of programmes or projects they thought to be "effective" and to indicate why they thought these were effective. Appendix 2 presents an analysis of the responses to this question. In addition, as part of collecting information for writing this paper, a host of publications were received describing projects that have, in one way or another been deemed to be successful, innovative, effective.

From these examples, the following conclusions can be drawn:

1. There is no lack of examples of programmes that are considered effective

. 2. The reasons why programmes are considered effective are extremely diverse, some related directly to their effects on children, families and communities, some related to the characteristics of the programmes themselves, and some related to the prevailing conditions that facilitated or permitted success.

3. Many options are mentioned including: centre and home based programmes; governmental, NGO, and community initiatives; formal, nonformal and informal programs; child, family, and community-focused programmes; programmes using the mass media; programmes attached to health and/or nutrition initiatives; transition programmes; toy libraries; work-related care; action research projects; training and capacity-building programmes; programmes for displaced children; advocacy efforts; etc.

4. Some programmes are effective for a time but lose their effectiveness, suggesting the need for a constant process of renewal.

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Several respondents to the survey labelled as tendencies or "advances" conceptual shifts directly related to the manner in which planning, programming and implementing organisations are going about their task of moving knowledge into action. For instance, mention was made of:

-A tendency to set ECCD programming within broader frameworks such as poverty alleviation or the need for a new citizenry as transitions to democracy occur or to problems of street children or criminal behaviour as well as to performance in school;

- Greater acceptance of the idea that development is "holistic" and integral programming cutting across sectoral lines;

- A tendency to think more in terms of programmes that prevent delayed or debilitated development, as contrasted with programmes focussed on "compensating" for these problems once they occur.

In the air also is a conceptual shift in how governments see their role, with a tendency to shift at least some of the burden of providing services from government to the marketplace through "privatisation." Such a shift, although at an early stage, is being harshly questioned by some who see this as a way for governments to avoid their responsibility.

Frameworks for action created internationally seem to be helping people to shift their paradigms of thinking and action as well. The conceptual frame provided at Jomtien by the inclusion of the phrase "Learning begins at birth", was cited by several of the people surveyed as providing an important base for action. In some circles, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has begun to bring about shifts in the way ECCD programmes are conceptualised, beginning more from a universal "rights" perspective and less from a "needs" perspective which tends to be associated more directly with focussed or "targeted" interventions.

Sceptical notes

A number of respondents noted advances in our knowledge base, but added qualifying statements. For instance, a few respondents said they thought current claims are exaggerated. From their perspective the tendency to justify ECCD investments in terms of long-term economic benefits was seen as resting, still, on a weak base, both because economic outcomes are only a part of the picture and because the research to date seems to involve creative but questionable premises as well as some leaps of faith when interpreting results. This seemed particularly so when applied to settings with a high level of poverty. These respondents felt that although ECCD may help in a modest way to alleviate some aspects of poverty, hailing it as the means to get out from under poverty seems exaggerated and might even be distracting us from more fundamental questions about what causes poverty.

This scepticism provides us with a useful reminder that there is much to be done to provide an even firmer base for action even as the considerable knowledge base we have is drawn upon to create and improve ECCD programmes. It also reminds us that although there is increasingly strong evidence that programmes of early education and development can have important and lasting effects on children and are a good investment, it is well to be humble with respect to our expectations in the short run and it is well to maintain a broad perspective on what needs to be done to overcome the conditions that lead to delayed and debilitated development.

Dissemination

Improvement in the knowledge base was seen both as an advance and as a condition that has permitted other advances in the field. However, new knowledge will not have much impact on actions if it is not disseminated widely (and/or to those knowledge brokers who help to move research results and theoretical advances from paper into practice). Accordingly, various respondents noted as an advance the increases in publications, the "construction of knowledge in fora", and the growth of knowledge networks. However, despite these advances, several respondents lamented the fact that new knowledge does not seem to transfer into changes in policies or programming, that the dissemination process seems to be slow and deficient, and that the strategies for reaching policy makers and planners as well as the general public are often inappropriate.

Changes in the attitudes and awareness of political leaders, funders, planners and the population at large about the importance of ECCD and its potential benefits. Closely related to the growth of a knowledge base and to its dissemination as well as to conceptual shifts noted above is the advance that was most often mentioned by respondents to the survey: an increased awareness of the importance of ECCD. Awareness, or "consciousness" was seen to have improved within both governments and civil society, and among policy-makers and intellectuals, in relation to: 1) the importance of early childhood care and education (and particularly of the earliest years), 2) what early childhood development is and 3) how to go about fostering it.

The following excerpts from responses received to the survey of knowledgeable people indicate how the importance of ECCD was expressed. "ECCD is on the agenda". "There is an increased awareness." "The need to invest is recognised." "ECCD is seen as of benefit to all." "Organisations and donors recognise the need to intervene." "The international community and national governments have been brought into ECCD." "Children are increasingly being seen as 'core business.'

For some, this advance in awareness includes, and is linked to, broader changes such as "an awareness of children's rights" or a "globally felt concern and responsibility for marginalised children" or a "greater sensitivity to the need to take cultural differences into account." "ECCD has emerged as a key field of social and educational development." "ECCD is seen as a springboard for development activities.

" Some saw the new awareness in terms of how early childhood development is conceived with, for instance, "greater acceptance that a child is not an 'incomplete being' but thinks and feels" or of the idea that we must take a "holistic view" and deal with the "indivisible needs" of a "whole child" or the "need to involve children actively.

" In more than one case, the most important advance in awareness noted was linked to the idea that "learning begins at birth" and/or of the "importance of ages 0 to 2" or of "the youngest children." A new appreciation of the importance of the ideas of "attachment" and "bonding" was mentioned. In some of the above, the recognition of the importance of the early years was explicitly linked to a growing "realisation that the family has a pivotal role to play".

These new levels and kinds of awareness bring with them specific implications for programming that, according to some respondents, now seem to be more widely accepted and practised. These will be presented below when dealing with advances that were noted in the approaches being taken to programming within ECCD.

Although improvements in the knowledge base and in awareness were often mentioned as an advance and as a condition that has permitted or fostered progress in the ECCD field, at the same time a lack of knowledge and/or "a lack of political will" seem to be recurrent complaints registered by survey respondents and in ECCD documents from various countries and/or regions.

Changes in policies and in legal and legislative frameworks for programming, internationally and nationally. Country reports and survey respondents often noted specific changes in laws, the development of policies and the explicit inclusion of ECCD in national plans as advances in the field of ECCD. In some countries, major educational reforms occurred of which early childhood education was a part. This was particularly true, of necessity, in former Soviet bloc nations which, with independence, had to set about re-constructing their educational systems.

Some cases of new regulatory legislation were mentioned. Various countries have either lowered the age of entrance into primary school, thereby giving what was one year of pre-school a new obligatory status, or, have legally declared one or more years of early education to be obligatory (in several Latin American countries). New policy statements have been issued in several countries; India is a prime example (Kaul 1999). In Africa, new policies have appeared in at least 10 countries (S. Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius, Ghana, Nigeria, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi). In the Caribbean, a regional plan of action has been jointly approved and is moving into an operational phase.

At the same time, the lack of good and comprehensive laws and policies, particularly for children under 3, characterises too many countries notwithstanding efforts in several Eastern European countries to strengthen policies with respect to the earliest years by extending maternal (and sometimes paternal) leaves and providing or increasing cash subsidies to families with young children. (This seems to be part of a policy shift returning the primary responsibility for child rearing to the family.)

Several survey respondents mentioned specifically a need for better laws governing the growing number of independent private ECCD centres.

There was, as well, considerable criticism of some of the broader governmental economic adjustment policies that affect ECCD indirectly and are often linked to international agency policies.

Changes in the availability of financial resources. Interestingly, while few of the people surveyed pointed directly to lack of funding as a barrier to advance in the ECCD field, there is a widespread feeling that the field is under-funded, that public financial support is low and unstable, and that the lack of resources is an important problem. Although information is incomplete, it is possible to provide information to support or counter this feeling.

International Financing

During the 1980s and at the outset of the present decade, financing within the international community for projects related to young children was focussed on survival, and, more specifically on health and nutrition. Guided by a consortium of donors (The Bellagio Group) and by the energetic promotion efforts of a Child Survival Revolution by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, major lending agencies, bi-lateral organisations, major Foundations and the larger international NGOs emphasised immunisation, oral rehydration, feeding, and other actions that were directed primarily at reducing infant and child mortality rates. Very little attention was given to child development. Donors seemed to accept the half truth that attending to health and nutrition would automatically benefit mental, social and psychological development.

At the beginning of the decade, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, was the only international institution with a history of consistent and significant support to early childhood development programmes located within the Majority World. That assistance was provided primarily within a child centred, community-based development framework. UNICEF, because of its decentralised nature, also managed to fund a variety of projects through its field offices, but without much support from the centre (despite a position paper on the subject produced in 1985). Other organisations provided sporadic assistance for isolated projects. In general, the available financing was for pilot or demonstration projects, often with a training component included.

International educational assistance was seldom provided for pre-school or child development projects but was concentrated increasingly on primary schooling, representing a shift from an earlier tendency to favour support for university development.

During the 1990s, however, the picture began to change. Indeed, there is no doubt that the overall level of international financing available for ECCD has increased a great deal since 1990. The change was driven by a certain level of success with child survival programs leading to a need to respond to the question, "Survival for what?" as well as by a search for something new. It was driven also by the changing knowledge base mentioned earlier, by a shift in demand related both to a desire to prepare children better for school and to the increasing labour force participation of women, and by international advocacy efforts. Both the Jomtien Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child provided new frameworks for attending to children and brought pressure to bear on signers to provide greater attention to children defined more broadly than in health and nutritional terms.

The greatest jump in available ECCD funding occurred within the World Bank. Table 3 presents summary data on World-Bank loan funds, amounting to almost one billion dollars, provided to support ECCD projects during the decade. The reader will notice that these loan funds have been concentrated on Latin America and Asia, with only about 7% of the total (70 million dollars) destined for 3 projects in Africa.

 
TABLE 3. --SUMMARY DATA ON WORLD BANK-FUNDED EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS.7 ( not availble)
 

On a somewhat lesser scale, the Inter-American Development Bank has increased its available funding for ECCD projects and has now made loans for ECCD projects in several countries. From 1991 to 1998, the IADB approved eight frees standing ECCD projects in the amount of US$68.5 million. (IADB 1999) In March of 1999, the President of the IADB promised to double the amount available. As suggested above, the Asian Development Bank has also begun to be active in the field.

In 1999, UNICEF made early childhood care for development a high priority. UNICEF funding for such activities can be expected to increase over the next few years. In the Foundation World, the Bernard van Leer Foundation continues to be a significant actor, joined by the Aga Khan Foundation which began its ECCD activities in 1984, and more recently by the Soros Foundation which has become a major actor in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. International NGOs (e.g., various members of the Save the Children Alliance, Christian Children's Fund, World Vision and Plan International) have increased their attention to young children and to their development as well as survival during the decade. Bi-lateral organisations have not been brought along in this current but can be expected to increase their support moderately in the years to come.

With this increase in funding has come another change; now support is available for medium and even larger scale projects in the field. And, the kinds of projects for which support is being provided have broadened well beyond formal pre-school education to include parental education and a variety of non-formal approaches.

In brief, possibilities for external funding have increased in an important way during the 1990s. In the final section of this paper, an additional comment on financing and on the responsibility of international organisations in that regard.

National Governments

The picture is not so clear with respect to national budgets. A look at the sections dealing with finances in country reports reveals that few reports have presented information specifically about the funding of early childhood programmes. There are several reasons for the gap in information, related to budget conventions and to the difficulty of bringing together information from the many administrative entities responsible for ECCD programmes.

In a very few countries, funding for ECCD constitutes a significant part of the education budget. In one country, 18% of the education budget is devoted to early education. Chile's funding was at a level of 7.6% of the education budget in 1998 (down slightly from 8.2% in 1990). More common, however, is the case of Jamaica, where only about 2% of the education budget goes to early childhood or Kenya where less than 1% is devoted to ECCD. The African report for Spanish, Portuguese and French Speaking Countries indicates that "Budget allocations are very meagre and are limited in most cases to staff welfare," (p.8) noting also that the management of the EFA target for early childhood is usually not the National Education Ministry. The Report of the Commission on ECCD from Johannesburg stated that, "..countries indicated that governments in general have neither the financial nor administrative capacity to engage in early childhood education in the way they are involved in the provision of primary universal education." pp. 39-40.

Other sources of funding: The Private and Social Sectors , Communities and Parents

Estimates are not available for the financial support that falls to the private and social sectors. In some countries, however, it is clear that an important part of the resource burden falls on non-governmental sources. For instance, in both the Kenyan and Jamaican cases mentioned above, the burden of financing falls on communities. In Africa, "In most countries, government efforts are supplemented by religious, non-governmental and community organisations.... In countries such as Zanzibar, parts of Kenya and Uganda and the Gambia with a strong Islamic presence, state provision up to primary school has supplemented by Koranic schools or madrassas... In Zanzibar, madrassas provide 62 percent of early childhood development schools." (Commission Report, pp. 40-41) In the islands of the Caribbean, pre-schooling is dominated by private Christian organisations or by community organisations.

In Latin America and elsewhere, a large variety of "non-formal" programmes exist which draw heavily on involvement of community members who "volunteer" their services thereby reducing the main cost of most ECCD programmes -- salaries.

Discussions of the contribution to ECCD of the " for profit private sector" must be divided into at least two parts involving 1) entrepreneurial institutions or individuals who offer ECCD services in order to make a profit and 2) profit-making companies organised for other purposes which may provide resources from their profits to support early childhood, by offering ECCD services on the premises to employees, by providing financial incentives to their employees to seek services elsewhere, or by making contributions to ECCD through special taxes or through related philanthropic efforts.

In many countries, ECCD entrepreneurs make an important contribution to ECCD. But sometimes it is difficult to determine whether or not such private efforts are really closer to community service than to profit-seeking behaviour. Indeed, when individuals set up centres catering to families with relatively low incomes, it is hard for them to make ends meet let alone make a profit. At the same time, there is a concern that the growth of private, for-profit centres attending to young children, is a problem because it is chaotic and unregulated, creating greater disparities and providing services of poor quality for low income families unable to pay for a better programme.

It is probably fair to say that, to date, the contribution of the second for-profit group -- the non-ECCD part of the private sector -- to the field of ECCD has been minimal (despite employee benefit regulations in some places mandating companies to set up day care centres). This may be changing as such organisations as the Soros Foundation and others make funds available for ECCD. There is a desire in some governments and in international organisations such as the World Bank, to seek greater support for ECCD from this part of the private sector. There has been little real effect of early efforts so far, but the tendency is present, and careful thought must be given to evaluating the different ways in which the sector might be involved so that the effect is not discriminatory or lead to a lowering of programme quality when the hope is that quality will be enhanced.

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In all likelihood, the greatest source of support for ECCD still comes from parents. This is clearly true for the earliest years during which the overwhelming majority of children remain at home. But even in the countries with a relatively high enrolment for children ages 4 or above, parents often contribute through payments of quotas, uniforms, materials required in official programmes as well as in private programmes. Clearly, in cases where the growth of ECCD is demand driven and largely run by private entrepreneurs or community, these costs to parents will be higher, with greater possibilities of discrimination related to the ability to pay.

Changes in organisational bases, strengthened and consolidated, both governmental and non-governmental; the growth of networks.

In some of the country reports and in the survey of knowledgeable people, organisational changes were frequently mentioned as "advances" in the ECCD field during the decade of the 1990s. The particular advance cited might involve bringing the field under the control of the education ministry and sector, presumably to give greater attention to the educational quality of programmes. Or, advances were cited that related to the creation of co-ordinating mechanisms reaching across sectors or across parts of the same sector or across agencies responsible for "care" as contrasted with "education".

Another organisational change that has occurred in many countries during the 1990s has been the decentralisation of programmes. This change is seen by some people as an important change opening the possibility for greater diversity related to local circumstances and cultural differences, increasing the level of local participation, and making accountability easier. Others see decentralisation as a new form of maintaining control from the centre, as a barrier to the important redistributional role states should play, and as a formula for diminished quality related to the lack of adequately trained human resources at the local level. How decentralisation is in fact affecting ECCD will have to be looked at closely in the coming years and the tendency will require greater attention to advocacy and training at local levels.

Another tendency that has intensified during the 1990s has been the increase in the organisational presence of NGOs. Several respondents to the survey noted this as a positive development.

Despite these organisational changes, organisational weakness and the failure of co-ordination among organisations appear frequently as barriers to change and as problems that need to be dealt with in the near future.

Changes in programme strategies and in programme quality

As we come to this set of changes, we move beyond changes in conditions (knowledge, laws, attitudes, available financing) to focus on actual changes in the types and quality of programmes offered. The discussion also takes us beyond a simple discussion of enrolment to look at enrolment in what kind of programmes, directed to whom, and under whose auspices.

Changing strategies/types of programs

Ever so slowly, shifts appear to be occurring, as noted in country reports and in responses to the survey, in the strategies used to foster early childhood development and to improve learning and education during the pre-school years.

For instance:

Although most attention in the field continues to be focussed on the immediate pre-school years, there is more attention to children under 4, not only through health programmes but also through programmes of parent education that include attention to psycho-social development as well. Parent education may be provided through home visiting, as an adjunct to centre-based programmes (health or school), through the mass media, and/or in adult education classes bringing groups of parents together.

Although fractured and uncoordinated sectoral and mono-focal programmes still predominate, much more attention is being given to multi-dimensional strategies that seek convergence, coordination, or integration.

Strategies more often provide for a variety of service models, using a range of different agents, as contrasted with the still prominent strategy that insists on extending the same service and the same model to all families and children, regardless of their culture and circumstances.

Somewhat greater attention is being given to adjusting curricula to culture. The idea of "beginning where people are" is gaining ground.

The presence of "non-formal" programmes has grown.

Changes in the quality of programmes

The EFA assessment did not include among its ECCD indicators any designed to help to identify changes in the quality of programmes. Nevertheless, some countries treated the quality issue, usually very briefly and in general terms, using their own definitions of quality.

Quality defined by inputs. In some cases, for instance, countries presented information about the construction of buildings and the distribution of materials and equipment, focussing on a definition of quality related to material inputs to programmes. Using these indicators, for instance, a setback in the quality of progammes in countries of the former Soviet Union was noted, related to deterioration in buildings and equipment during conflicts to reduced budgets.

Moving closer to the heart of the ECCD process, many countries noted as advances in quality the initiation or expansion of training courses for early childhood caregivers and teachers. Important advances in the formation of ECCD agents were noted in a review of initial education in Latin America (Peralta and Fujimoto, 1998, pp.105/6) International support for ECCD has often focussed on training.

Quality defined by process. And, many reports mentioned curricular reforms made during the period, generally oriented toward making the process more active, exploratory, democratic, culturally adjusted, etc. There was evidence as well of some importing of curricula: Step-by-Step, related to grants made by the Soros Foundation in Central Asia, Montessori programmes in Africa, etc. presumably with the assumption that tried curricula will result in programmes are of better quality.

The proportion of adults to children was also used in a few cases as an indicator of quality, again under the assumption that fewer children per adult improves the interaction between the education agent and child. And, the ratio of technical-pedagogical supervisors to pre-school teachers was also mentioned as an indicator of quality.

Quality defined by results. Unfortunately, the most important indicator of programme quality -- the changing developmental status and learning of children was almost completely absent from evaluations. Again, Chile constitutes an exception.

In both the country evaluations and in the survey, the quality of ECCD programmes was pointed to as a major problem, with expansion in the number of available places in programmes clearly outrunning quality. This tendency was linked by various survey respondents to discrimination against rural, indigenous, and low-income populations which tend to be enrolled in what appear to be programmes of inferior quality: "poor programmes for poor people" as one person noted.

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