sets out problem areas and needs as identified by survey respondents
and country reports and as found in recent publications. The
following listing, which is expressed in terms of "deficits"
should not be interpreted to mean that countries have not
made advances. Indeed, in addressing these deficits, it would
be well to begin by securing and extending the gains already
made in these areas. Some countries have made greater advances
than others in particular areas so that the priority given
to areas of action will differ from country to country.
Weak political will. In many, even most, countries the
need continues to convince politicians, policy makers, programmers,
and education officials, often now at local levels, of the
importance of ECCD. To create political will, we need to develop:
strategies of communicating, lobbying and advocating. These
will include strategies directed to groups that have not always
been called upon to help in the process (e.g., the mass media)
and groups that are emerging as important potential actors
(governors, mayors and other officials operating at levels
other than the national level).
- a better
information base, with systematic descriptions of programmes
thought to be effective, improved indicators (see attached
note), more solid statistics, strengthened monitoring and
evaluation systems, and greater attention to local research.
policy and legal frameworks. To formulate and strengthen policy
we need to:
analytical studies of existing policies affecting children,
looking beyond narrowly conceived educational policies to,
for instance social welfare, health, and labor policies that
affect child care and development during the early years.
conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
incorporating principles of the best interests of the child,
non-discrimination and participation. Ø Work closely with
the legal profession.
norms and standards (for private as well as public, and including
provisions for constant revision) that are not so rigid or
high as to be unworkable but which will assure positive attention
a clearer legal base for assigning budget allocations. Operation.
the roles of the state, civil society and the private sector
as well as forms of partnership among them.
of, or poor use of, financial resources. ECCD programmes
generally command a small portion of governmental budgets,
relative to percentage of young children in the population.
In budgetary terms, children (and especially young children)
are clearly not placed first. There is, therefore, a need
allocations to ECCD in national budgets and make more permanent
commitments to such funding.
the capacity of states and municipalities to obtain resources
cost-effective approaches, including quality community-based
non-formal approaches to ECCD.
more vigorously such alternative (to government budgets) avenues
of funding as debt swaps, philanthropic contributions, and
private sector involvement.
the increase of financial resources with attention to the
capacity to handle such resources and the strengthening of
access to central pots of money by local organisations so
as to respond better to local demand expressed in proposals
originating in communities.
(Lack of options). The bureaucratically convenient tendency
to extend the same programme to all children conflicts with
the need to tailor ECCD programmes to cultural, geographic,
economic, and age differences. This tendency is reinforced
by the notion that ECCD is the same as "pre-school" which,
in turn, is simply an extension downward of primary schooling.
We need, therefore, to:
in terms of complementary and varied approaches to ECCD that
include family and community-based programmes.
NGOs more actively as partners.
programme responsibility as well as administrative responsibility,
with attention to building local capacity.
culturally relevant programmes with local communities rather
than impose ECCD practices from the centre.
quality. There is a pressing need to:
training and supervision and to provide sound training (both
pre-service and in-service) at all levels in with respect
to a diversity of ECCD approaches. Ø Reduce the number of
children (or families) per education/care agent.
and reformulate curricula, taking into account not only "best
practices" but also local definition of what constitutes "best
upon existing experience in a more systematic way.
better systems to monitor and evaluate both children and programmes.
of attention to particular populations. The following "disadvantaged"
populations need to be given greater attention: low-income,
rural, indigenous, girls, HIV/AIDS, children 0-3, pregnant
and lactating mothers, working mothers, fathers.
of co-ordination. If a holistic and integrated notion of learning
and development is to be honoured and if resources are to
be used more effectively greater co-ordination is needed a)
among government programmes of health, welfare, social security,
nutrition, education, rural or community development, etc.,
b) within the education sector, especially between ECCD and
primary schooling, and c) between governmental and non-governmental
organisations. We need to:
inter-sectoral, inter-organisational co-ordinating bodies.
joint programmes crossing bureaucratic boundaries.
the ability of families and communities to call upon and bring
together services that are presently offered in an uncoordinated
agreement on the populations that are most in need of attention
and direct services to those populations in a converging manner.
partnerships. A clearer definition is needed of the roles
of the state and civil society and of forms of partnership
conceptualisation. The conceptual frameworks guiding programmes
intended to improve early childhood care and development and
early learning have come primarily from developmental psychology
and from formal education. There is a need to go beyond the
knowledge that these fields can provide to incorporate broader
views with cultural, social and ethical dimensions brought
to bear. There is a need also to relate ECCD programming,
conceptually and operationally, to other programmes lines
that begin from analyses of children's rights, poverty, working
mothers, rural development, special needs, street children,
refugees, adolescents, gender, etc.
should the emphasis be placed?Where
should we concentrate efforts?
answer to this question must be, "It depends." A point that
has been reiterated in this document is that there is that
regions and countries (and parts of countries) present extremely
different conditions and cultural views and are at very different
points in a process. It is therefore inappropriate to try
and set general priorities for action in all situations. In
some places emphasis must be given to advocacy and to getting
the policy and legal frameworks right. In others, emphasis
needs to be given to problems related to combating HIV/AIDS.
In others, facilities need to be repaired.
with this posture, the second answer to the question must
be, "Each country (or perhaps even municipality) must take
stock and decide upon its priorities."
said the above, it does seem appropriate to 1) present my
own biased opinion of areas that seem to need special emphasis
and that seem to stretch across many settings and 2) to suggest
some general guidelines that represent the author's particular
view of what needs to be put front and centre as the field
possible areas of special interest.
and Supervision. Starting from the premise that the quality
of programmes will be only as good as the people who operate
them, it is logical to place emphasis on assuring that ECCD
people at various levels are well motivated and are part of
a continuous process of training. This does not mean that
all those who attend to, care for, and educate young children
or who work with parents and communities to improve care need
to have university degrees. It does mean that they need both
pre-service and in-service training. Experience suggests that
early childhood programmes often suffer from weak systems
of administrative supervision linked to "inspection" when
what is really needed is a strong system of technical supervision
tied to improving continuous learning that includes opportunities
to interact with and learn from peers. Such training, done
well, motivates as well as provide essential information and
improve methods. A priority for many countries, then, might
well be to strengthen their pre-service and (especially) in-service
training in combination with a reconstituted system of supervision
that builds and builds on participation of education, care
and development agents. In addition, training of administrators,
supervisors, planners, evaluators and others who form part
of an ECCD system will be needed. Increasingly, there is a
need to assist local administrators, planners and functionaries
to work in the ECCD field. Again, history and current conditions
will dictate where more, or less, emphasis is needed within
this general priority area, but the general need for better
and more appropriate training at various levels will be, in
my opinion, general.
educating and involving parents and other family members.
Parents and other family members will continue to be the main
influences on young children's lives for the foreseeable future,
especially for children under 3 or 4 years of age. Perhaps
the greatest and most lasting effects on a child's learning
and development can come from improvements in the capacity
of parents to provide a supportive environment for learning
and development. As suggested earlier, there are many possible
ways to support and work with parents and family members and
the particular combination of how to go about this work will
vary with conditions.
is a tendency to view parent education as a kind of quick
and cheap way of dealing with the early childhood area. There
is also a tendency for some ECCD programmers to look at parents
as instruments rather than as people. In addition, parent
education is often thought of as mother's education. A concerted
effort will be needed to moderate these tendencies, providing
more prolonged and better funded programmes in this area,
emphasising programmes that help parents grow as people, not
just parents, and involving fathers as well as mothers.
environments there is a tendency to keep parents at the margin,
at best providing them with periodic "talks", rather than
seeking ways of involving them directly in setting the directions
of the institution and in its functioning. This is another
trend that needs to be countered because experience also suggests
that parental participation improves programmes.
and monitoring. Giving priority to building monitoring
and evaluation systems derives from more than an academic
bias. Among the lessons learned from successful programmes
is that effectiveness is fostered if programmes develop slowly
and are monitored and adjusted regularly. The information
that comes from monitoring and evaluation will serve advocacy
purposes as well as policy and administrative purposes. The
information should help the process of reconceptualisation
that many survey respondents felt is necessary.
in this paper, it was noted that countries did not provide
information about how the well-being of their children has,
or has not progressed. This gap needs to be filled by supporting
countries to define the particular outcomes and measures that
they feel will provide essential feedback about how well they
are doing with respect to the learning and development of
their young children.
"priorities" will be implicit in some of the guidelines that
a holistic view of the child and of the learning and development
process, adopting cross-sectoral policies.
on the well-being of children and on active learning not on
the size of particular programmes or on building bureaucracies.
with pre-natal attention.
the excluded. Focus on gender and social equity.
family-focused and community-based, fostering participation.
cultural relevance, determined by those involved, and accommodation,
beginning where people are, building on inherent strengths.
· Build child-focussed partnerships.
cost-effectiveness, broadly defined.
formulas. Be open to diversity and to complementary approaches.
· Seek quality defined not only by the nature of inputs and
processes, but also by outcomes.
monitoring and evaluation into programmes from the outset.