UNESCO’s activities in early childhood focus on upstream policy work through collaboration with government officials to review and develop their national policies affecting children from the age of 0 to 8.
As this age bracket covers a diverse group of children in various developmental stages, it is naturally difficult for countries to address all children within this group simultaneously and equally.
Prioritisation is necessary. In this regard, UNESCO’s early childhood programmes focus on holistic pre-primary education for children over the age of 3, for which emphasis is placed on its linkages with primary education. It is important to note that pre-primary education must promote the child’s holistic development and should not be implemented like early primary education.
UNESCO also promotes two useful planning strategies to address the early childhood needs for those under three years of age—phasing and partnership. A phased plan can impel the education sector to eventually respond to the needs of younger children as part of its overall commitment to early childhood.
Partnership is another effective strategy. For instance, the social and health sectors are often more closely linked with families. If a partnership is developed with them, the care and education of younger children can be addressed together with those of older children.