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The Equity Initiative: Expanding Access to Quality Pre-Primary Education Opportunities: Using Data and Research to Document Inequity

Thu, March 29, 11:30am to 1:00pm, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 11th Floor, Suite 2 (Room 1101)

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


Although access to pre-primary education over the last 15 years has increased, the progress has been slow and uneven. Between 2000 and 2015, global access on average increased by less than 20%, from 31 % in 2000 to 48% in 2015. Today, close to half of the world’s preschool aged children are still not enrolled in any pre-primary education programme. A key bottleneck to progress in ensuring equitable access to quality pre-primary services is that pre-primary education does not yet feature in Education Sector Plans of low and lower middle income countries and tends to account for a disproportionately small part of the education budgets. Anchoring pre-primary education more centrally in the Education Sector Planning processes in countries where provision is low, is a necessary step to facilitate stronger investment and a deeper focus on scaling up this essential service. Three main issues can be identified, that are relevant to the systematic expansion and implementation of pre-primary education. These include:

1. Insufficient relevant pre-primary data and analysis at the national level to make a strong case for expansion of services. Strong data and evidence, especially on the quality of pre-primary services, can inform Education Sector Analysis, make the case for pre-primary expansion and subsequently inform a pre-primary sub-sector development.
2. Insufficient domestic and international financing for pre-primary education. Finance is a critical bottleneck to scale up but to increase the domestic budget allocation to the sub-sector, strategic and realistic costed plans are needed that can open the policy dialogue and subsequent budget provision within the Education sector.
Lack of systemic vision for pre-primary education, compromising implementation at scale. Taking a systems perspective to the scale up of pre-primary education is key to ensuring sustainable quality services for more children. Careful and strategic planning is needed across all sub-sector components (including pre-primary teacher workforce, quality assurance and regulation, decentralisation challenges, among others) to facilitate quality implementation at scale.

This panel is a part of a three-panel series, each focusing on one of the key challenges described above. This panel addresses recent efforts to produce reliable and actionable data on equity in children’s learning and development and access to quality pre-primary education. The first paper will present new analyses on access to pre-primary education globally, and the second paper will present new descriptors of children’s learning and development in Mali using a representative sample, providing an example of how data on child development can help identify children facing inequities. The third paper will describe findings on quality of pre-primary in Tanzania. Like the other proposals in this series, this panel is relevant to both the global education and early childhood scholarly and practitioner communities.

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