Photo by © UNHCR, Fréderic Noy.
A recent scorecard released by Theirworld has illuminated the startling gap in funding for pre-primary education. The scorecard reports that only 0.34 percent of the total funding gap to provide pre-primary education for all children in low and lower-middle income countries was filled in 2014. Further, as many as 83 countries did not receive any funding for pre-primary aid. Insufficient and unpredictable funding, as well as lack of financing and data, act as significant barriers to ensuring universal access to pre-primary programs for children.
Early childhood development (ECD) spans from pregnancy to primary school, and is the most critical time period for children’s physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development. In the first 1,000 days alone between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, the brain develops 700 neurals connections every second — the highest rate of brain development in a person’s lifetime. Foundational to ECD is comprehensive pre-primary education, which facilitates children’s learning and growth in the aforementioned areas.
Access to pre-primary education and programs specifically, however, is limited despite the widespread research detailing its critical need and the positive outcomes it produces for children. In 2014, only 50 percent of children were enrolled in pre-primary school, globally. For children living in low-income countries in 2013, this figure was even lower: a paltry 18 percent.
“Less than half of all children around the world aren’t getting any education in their early years, an intervention proven to be a key investment in a child’s development,” said Sarah Brown, GBC-Education Executive Chair. “This new research shows us that children are missing out on education and learning at a crucial young age, putting them at a disadvantage before they have even set foot in a primary school.”
To foster this growth at full capacity, individuals in early childhood require ample access to good nutrition, quality health care, early learning opportunities, among other vital resources. The lack of these services in the early years can adversely affect long-term health, learning and behavioral capabilities, which are difficult to reverse at later stages of life.
How Business can Contribute
Businesses can contribute to closing the ECD funding gap and ensure that all countries receive pre-primary aid through leveraging their core assets, expertise, leadership, funds, services, or developing creative solutions to equip marginalized communities with educational opportunities.
In addition to highlighting the dire need for global early childhood education opportunities, the scorecard advocates for increased financing. This is an issue that GBC-Education members have been advocating for as well. Last July during the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, GBC-Education members urged world leaders and governments to increase and expand financing and investment for ECD and education.
Read the scorecard in full here. To learn more about ECD and the work being done to support it, see our brief.