JAKARTA, September 11, 2019 – Early childhood education benefits children well into primary school, according to a new World Bank impact evaluation of the Government of Indonesia’s Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) program.
The Government of Indonesia has been carrying out a number of initiatives in the past ten years to improve the country’s early childhood education sector – from expanding access to preschool services through the Early Childhood Education and Development project to expanding the training available for community educators through the Frontline Service Delivery project. These efforts have produced a positive result as indicated by the Ministry of Education and Culture’s 2018 data on the gross enrollment rate for 3 to 6-year-old which increased from 25.8 percent in 2010 to 32.11 percent in 2018. However, access to early education services has been unequal; with children who are economically disadvantaged having significantly lower enrollment rates than their wealthier peers. To improve access to early childhood services and increase children’s readiness for school, the Government, with support from the World Bank, launched the Early Childhood Education and Development Project in 2009. It operated in 50 districts and focused on 3,000 villages identified on the basis of their poverty rates and size.
The impact evaluation assessed the Project performance from 2009 to 2016 and focused on playgroup services in 310 villages in nine districts. The evaluation followed the development of children when they were aged 1, 2, 5, and 8 years old. It examined a comprehensive set of child development outcomes, both cognitive and socio-emotional, as well as children’s performance on a test of language, mathematics and cognitive reasoning when they were in primary school.
Data collected for the evaluation were also used to examine pathways through early childhood education. The research team found that children who were enrolled in playgroup programs when they were between 3 and 4 years old, followed by kindergarten programs at age 5 to 6, scored significantly higher on primary school tests than those enrolled only in playgroup or only in kindergarten programs.
“The results of this impact evaluation show that early childhood education programs work best when they support children’s learning at various stages of development—a play-based or playgroup early education setting followed by a more structured and increasingly academic-based environment in kindergarten before entering primary school,” said Amer Hasan, Senior Economist of the World Bank.
The evaluation also found that higher-quality preschools were linked with better child development outcomes in areas such as social competence, language and cognitive development, communications skills and general knowledge.
“High-quality, easily accessible early education services are essential to better prepare Indonesian children for further schooling, thus helping them become more successful in school and later in the labor market. Focus on this critical area can ensure a strong human capital foundation for Indonesia,” said Camilla Holmemo, World Bank Program Leader for Human Development.