Market control of ECCE is not an option
How to scale up early childhood care and education programmes especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children was the focus of discussions on the second day of the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education underway in Moscow.
The clear message from all of the sessions was that the public sector should be primarily responsible for this sector. Governments have a key role to play. They must provide strong, clear policies that ensure equity in access and quality. They need to devise solid legal frameworks to guarantee respect of rights and continuity. And they need to ensure a sound and reliable funding base.
Good quality childcare comes at a price, said Helen Penn from the University of East London. She estimated the cost at between $7,600 and $22,000 a year. In many countries she added, it is provided mainly by entrepreneurs. This exacerbates inequalities, the rich being able to pay more for higher quality service.
Market control of this service is thus not an option, said Charles Bruner of the Child and Family Policy Centre in the United States, who argued that public sector involvement is indispensable to ensure quality of programmes and equality of access, especially in "neighbourhoods of multiple vulnerability factors".
Vice President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure underscored this point, saying that his country's experience had shown that "innovative financing (in early childhood care and education) can only come from governments."
The participants also reviewed reports on the state of early Childhood Care and Education.
Tomorrow's sessions will focus on a presentation of best practices, looking at model programmes in the city of Moscow, Cuba and Mauritius, as well as several specific themes such as balancing quality against quantity; exclusion and marginalization and ECCE in emergency and post emergency situations.
The conference will close tomorrow evening with the adoption of a framework for Action and Cooperation.