The goal of the UNESCO Regional Office for Education in the Arab States is to improve policies that will lead to an increasing access to early childhood education in the Arab States as well as to improve the quality of the practices in Early Childhood education in accord with UNESCO's Vision to:
- Improve policies that will lead to an increasing access to early childhood education
- Improve the quality of the practices in early childhood education
- Build national and regional capacity in early childhood care and education
The Jomtien Declaration on Education for All, states that learning begins at birth and confirms that early childhood care and education is an essential component of basic education.
The Dakar Framework for Action reaffirms the importance of Early Childhood and includes development of early childhood care and education as one of its six goals:
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Research has shown that the foundations of human development are laid during the child’s early years and that early childhood education is considered as an important factor for laying a good foundation of effective learning in primary and later stages of schooling. Aware of this fact, most Arab countries show a rise in the gross pre-primary enrolment ratio.
Governments in the region have generally focused on registration, setting of educational standards and curricula, as well as monitoring activities and teacher training. Some of them have introduced more progressive measures, such as revising legislation to better ensure quality services and programmes, establishing centers where young children can learn free of charge, or improving co-ordination of all parties concerned in the preschool sector. However, there is unequal access to early childhood services and programmes, as provision is largely concentrated in large urban areas, leaving rural populations at a disadvantage.