Investment and financing

©UNESCO/Laura Berdejo
Leififi kindergarden, Samoa

The greatest difficulty faced by countries in their efforts to expand and improve the quality of early childhood care and education is the mobilisation of resources. This is particularly daunting in developing countries, where early childhood may be overshadowed by other pressing priorities, such as universal primary education.

Governments, if they deal with the issue at all, often approach early childhood from the context of national social policy or health services.

The 1990 Jomtien Declaration on Education for All (EFA), stated that countries should view early childhood as part of basic education. Once countries recognise the positive value of state investment in this area, the next challenge is to mobilise funds. In general, government funding for early childhood is extremely small. For this reason approaching the private sector (non-profit and for-profit) can be an effective strategy.

Private sector involvement using a market approach may also ensure services are delivered more effectively. However, governments must use complementary financing measures to ensure equity of access for poor and disadvantaged children, as a pure market approach to increasing the level of early childhood provision has been shown to favour the privileged, who can afford the service

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