Education International
Education International

Investing in pre-primary education vital for children’s life chances

published 29 June 2016 updated 5 July 2016

According to a new scorecard on pre-primary education globally released by charity Theirworld, millions of children will not reach their full potential unless governments urgently increase their commitment to pre-primary education for every child.

The scorecard reveals the level of aid to pre-primary education globally. Theirworld aims to improve children’s lives and offer each of them the chance to fulfil their potential.

Pre-primary education received just 1.15 percent of the total aid to education in 2014, while the global pre-primary enrolment rate fell to 44 percent. The latter shows that over half of the world’s children are still excluded from the benefits of pre-primary education. Only 17 percent of children in low-income countries enrolled in 2014.


In 2014, higher education received over 40 per cent of total aid to education – showing just how under-prioritised and underfunded pre-primary education is.

This is concerning as the scorecard shows that gaps in development and lack of access to the cognitive and social skills that pre-school fosters in children between the ages of three and five — such as early reading and math, and social interaction — can have a lifelong impact on a child’s physical and mental health, learning, behaviour and ability to reach his/her full potential when they start primary school. Pre-primary education increases a child’s school readiness, leading to higher academic achievement and decreasing the likelihood that a child will repeat a grade or drop out.

Level playing field

Early childhood development (ECD) is therefore one of the most cost-effective and successful strategies for levelling the playing field for disadvantaged children and closing the achievement gap early, as the benefits are greatest for the most marginalised and disadvantaged children.

The scorecard further highlights that Sustainable Development Goal 4 requires that universal pre-primary education be achieved by 2030. Theirworld warns that, at current rates, that goal will not be achieved.

This is the first in a series on ECD as part of Theirworld’s “Best Start” campaign, highlighting the importance of and the need for action on ECD.