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Innovations in measuring access to ECD

Wed, March 8, 8:00 to 9:30am, Sheraton Atlanta, 1, Georgia 5 (South Tower)

Session Submission Type: Group Panel

Description of Session

A vast amount of research highlights the importance of pre-primary education, school readiness, and other interventions that need to be made before age 6 or 7. For practical reasons, the education sector’s mandate for now has to do mostly with the year or two prior to Grade 1, and it is thus that international goals for the education sector tend to be stated. Specifically, SDG 4.2 calls for the measurement of “4.2.2. Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age).” However, these data are not reported in a large set of political entities, in a standardized and easy to access fashion (e.g., online databases of UIS). Some of these, such as Afghanistan, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Malawi, are either fragile or have low material means. Surprisingly, though, there are middle-income countries that also do not report (or have not reported in the last five years), such as Colombia or the Philippines. Efforts to help countries report could be stepped up. In addition, though, there are interesting anomalies that could raise some reasons for hope. In particular, there is a large number of countries (approximately 40) that report over-enrollment in Grade 1 greater than 30%. There are good reasons to suspect that this is enrollment in lieu of proper pre-primary enrollment, or informal repetition due to lack of pre-primary options. In some sense, to be explored in the session, this could represent an opportunity for increasing provision of early childhood care.
Currently, the provision of pre-primary education is one of the strongest proxies for inequality. Entry into primary is now nearly universal. Progress to secondary is, while far from universal, much improved. But enormous inequality both within and between countries remains in pre-primary education and care.
The session will contextualize the basic data documenting inequality, and then will spend most of the time analyzing key current efforts to measure and report, using both administrative and survey data. Steps that could be taken to take this work forward will be explored, including issues related to definitions, understandings of “organized,” and formality and registry of care-providing institutions. In addition, the session will explore the degree to which the lack of ECD results in over-enrollment and inefficiency in the early grades, and that this is partly due to definitional issues around repetition and ECD. The degree of “internal inefficiency” that this causes will be presented. A case study from Uganda will look definitional and reporting issues related to definitions of repetition, informal use of Grade 1 as ECD, from the point of view of both parents and teachers.

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