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Maintaining early childhood care and education

Investment in early learning lays the foundation for lifelong learning and impacts wider social and economic outcomes.

According to UNICEF’s 2019 Global Report ‘A World Ready to Learn’, only half of the world’s children receive the benefits of early childhood education. Nearly 175 million children do not have access to pre-primary education; and emerging issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are creating additional challenges.

According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 outbreak school closures has put approximately 1.5 billion children and youth out of school. They point out that young children are especially vulnerable because Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) supports critical holistic childhood development.

The Commonwealth Early Childhood Care and Education Toolkit is designed to support countries with these existing and emerging challenges.

Developed through extensive consultation with experts and international partners, the toolkit provides policy recommendations, advice and resources to strengthen early childhood education programmes.  It is particularly useful because it focuses on equal access to quality early education, ensuring that the poorest, most remote and marginalised are not left out.

In line with the approaches of other international organisations such as UNICEF, UNESCO and the GPE, this Commonwealth toolkit advocates for a multi-sectoral approach to ECCE. It is built on the premise that education, health, nutrition, child and social protection are all sectors that should be involved in the planning and provision of accessible and quality early childhood care and education.

As governments plan a return to school strategies, the toolkit can support a holistic, effective and coordinated multi-sectoral approach to ECCE delivery for children aged 0 - 8.

Education in the Commonwealth