World Bank, UNICEF established alliance to promote Early Childhood Development programme

Apr 19, 2016 13:13 IST

World Bank and UNICEF on 14 April 2016 announced establishment of new alliance that aims to make Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme a global policy.

To give all young children access to quality services that improve their health, nutrition, learning ability and emotional well-being, the alliance calls for programming and public spending priority.

On the occasion, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake jointly urged global and national leaders to step up and accelerate action and investments in nutrition and ECD programmes as a critical foundation for equitable development and economic growth.

What will alliance do?

World Bank and UNICEF, through this alliance invited governments, development partners, civil society, foundations and the private sector to make early childhood development a global and national development priority.

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The alliance will support country-led efforts to invest in nutrition, early stimulation and learning, and protection, and to engage with communities to drive demand for these high-quality ECD services for every child.

Why the alliance?

• The alliance between the two institutions and a call for making ECD as global policy is based on the advances in neuroscience and recent economic studies.

• The advancement and studies show that early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development and on subsequent learning, health, and adult earnings.

• Children who are poorly nourished and nurtured, or those who do not receive early stimulation, are likely to learn less in school and earn less as adults.

SDG and ECD: How are they linked?

Recognizing the growing understanding of ECD’s importance, the Sustainable Development Goals include an ECD target – the first time ECD has been explicitly included in global development goals.

SDG Target 4.2 aims to increase the percentage of children under 5 years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being.

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Although ECD falls under the SDG for education, it provides a natural link to other goals, too — including poverty reduction, health and nutrition, women and girls’ equality, and ending violence.

What does fact say?

• Globally, millions of children under the age of five are at risk of never reaching their full developmental potential.

• One out of four children under five (159 million) are stunted due to poor nutrition, with numbers significantly higher in parts of Africa and South Asia.

• Nearly half of all 3 to 6 year olds don’t have access to pre-primary education.

• In Sub-Saharan Africa, 80 percent are not enrolled in pre-primary programmes.

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• Emerging scientific evidence also shows that prolonged exposure to adversity – such as countries affected by conflict or households affected by domestic violence – can cause toxic stress on children, a condition that can also inhibit peak brain development in early childhood.

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