Early childhood (from birth to 5 yearsi ) through primary school is a critical time period for young children. The first few years of life are a period of remarkable brain development that lays the foundation for subsequent learning and development. Children in rich and poor countries alike face barriers of access and quality.
Size/Magnitude of Problem
Early childhood development (ECD) is one of the most cost-effective investments for strengthening society – reducing child mortality, violence,ii and dropout rates while enhancing intelligence scores, school completion rates, quality of health and nutrition, social intelligence, and emotional well-being.iii One year of education is estimated to increase wage earnings by 10%,iv and working adults with a primary education are 20% less likely to be poor than those without.v
- 61 million primary-aged childrenvi (9% global ratevii) are out of school, and 250 million of the world's 650 million primary-school-age children cannot read, write or do basic mathematics.viii
- An estimated 171 million people would be lifted out of poverty, 12% of the global total, if all students in low-income countries acquired basic reading skills.ix
- Failure to teach children the basics costs governments $129 billion annually, or 10% of global spending on primary education, through ineffective spending.x
Every child has the opportunity to experience a healthy, nurturing childhood environment that creates a strong foundation of cognitive, social and emotional well-being, and for success in primary schools that further nourish the child into reaching his or her full potential.
Ways Skoll social entrepreneurs are addressing the issue:
- Directly providing students with quality curriculum and services that improve learning (Afghan Institute of Learning, Aflatoun, Educate Girls, Khan Academy, Pratham, Room to Read, The Citizens Foundation)
- Enabling vulnerable children left out by the system (e.g. girls, homeless children) to receive an education (Afghan Institute of Learning, Arzu, Educate Girls, Free the Children, Friends-International, GoodWeave, OneSky, Population and Community Development Association, The Citizens Foundation, Tostan)
- Strengthening education governance through training and supporting teachers, administrators, and school systems (Escuela Nueva, New Teacher Center, Pratham, Teach for All)
- Engaging communities as a support network to value education for all children (Educate Girls, Girls Not Brides, Nidan, Tostan)