Education International
Education International

EI progress in promoting quality early childhood education

published 20 November 2013 updated 22 November 2013

With the support of its global Task Force on early childhood education (ECE), EI has taken strides to promote quality ECE and better conditions of work for early childhood personnel.

The ECE Task Force, which met in Geneva last week, has been guiding the implementation of EI’s Strategy on ECE, mainly through research, information sharing and advocacy. Regional working groups to support EI to promote quality ECE services for all children and better working conditions for early childhood educators have been established in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. This is in addition to the European Task Force, which was set up in 2005.

Progress and challenges

At the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the regional working groups, the participants highlighted the progress made in promoting quality ECE and the challenges that continue to confront the sector. While there are more young children in ECE today than a decade ago, the pre-primary gross enrolment rate remains very low, at 48 per cent. Enrolment rates are lowest in Arab States and sub-Saharan Africa, where they stand at 22 and 17 per cent, respectively.

The meeting noted with concern the widespread promotion of private provision of ECE services, which remains one of the biggest barriers to equity, equality and quality. The participants strongly stressed the need for public provision of ECE, particularly for the youngest children.

Within the broader framework of EI’s Unite for Quality Education campaign, the participants identified organising and mobilising as an important priority in ECE. The participants noted that unionisation of ECE personnel can help promote decent work in the sector.

Guidelines on decent work conditions

The Task Force members also attended an International Labour Organisation (ILO) Experts meeting convened to discuss ILO Policy Guidelines on the promotion of decent work conditions for early childhood educators. The Policy Guidelines, which were agreed at the meeting, set out principles for the promotion of decent work for ECE personnel as a means of ensuring access to high-quality services. They cover conditions of work and employment of ECE personnel and related issues, including ECE financing, curricula and learning practices, social dialogue, professional ethics, and ECE governance. The Policy Guidelines will be presented to the next meeting of the ILO Governing Body for its consideration and adoption.

EI: Advocacy work tool

Welcoming the development of the ILO Policy Guidelines, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, said, “If adopted, as expected, the ILO guidelines will become an important tool for EI and unions’ advocacy work and serve as a key guiding document for governments to develop, elaborate, review and implement comprehensive ECE policies”.  Van Leeuwen commended the Task Force for supporting EI’s work on ECE and urged member organisations to recruit and organise professionals in the sector.