Learning begins well before a child enters primary school: it begins at birth and in the home. Comprehensive Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) fosters holistic development and learning of young children from birth to eight years of age.

“Care” includes health, nutrition and hygiene in a secure and nurturing environment. “Education” includes stimulation, socialization, guidance, participation, and learning and developmental activities. “Care” and “Education” are inseparable: both are needed and reinforce each other to create a strong foundation for children’s subsequent lifelong learning and wellbeing.

Parents are the first caregivers and educators of young children. ECCE programmes can be organized in a variety of forms in formal, non-formal and informal settings, for example:

  • parenting education programmes;
  • home-based childcare programmes;
  • family literacy programmes strengthening caregivers’ literacy and childrearing knoweldge as well as the child’s emergent literacy;
  • community-based programmes combining health, nutrition and early stimulation;
  • formal preschools and kindergartens;
  • school-readiness programmes facilitating transition to early primary, etc.

The quality of care and education provided to young children is affected by policies and provisions in areas such as maternal health, family, welfare and protection, employment and poverty reduction, gender and social inclusion policies. 

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