WASHINGTON, April 30, 2020 –The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today the grant-financed Early Childhood Development to Build Tajikistan’s Human Capital Project, which will support Tajikistan’s efforts to improve young children’s nutrition, health, and education outcomes. This project focuses on boosting the quality and availability of key services for children from birth to 6 years of age. The financing for the project comes from the International Development Association ($70 million) and the Global Financing Facility Trust Fund ($3 million).
“No investment is more effective for developing a country’s workforce and productivity than an investment in the earliest years of a child’s life,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “With such a young population, Tajikistan’s future prosperity is especially dependent on investments today in its human capital.”
Policies aimed at fostering early childhood development (ECD) combine measures to support the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional growth of a child, from conception to primary school. These early years represent the most crucial period for brain development, laying the foundation for health, cognitive capacity, and productivity in later life. Poor nutrition, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and lack of early childhood stimulation can lead to developmental delays, lack of progress in school, and other consequences with lifelong impacts.
The Early Childhood Development to Build Tajikistan’s Human Capital Project will prioritize regions with the lowest rates of preschool enrolment and high birth rates. The project will introduce new and cost-effective solutions to expand the coverage of young children with pre-school education. It will equip health facilities to monitor children’s growth and development to enable them to course correct in a timely manner.
Project activities will be implemented jointly with policymakers, parents, caregivers, communities, teachers, and health workers, because everyone has an important role to play. A range of government agencies, including those focused on health, education, finance, and social protection, will work together to achieve better outcomes for children.
Tajikistan has the youngest and fastest growing population in the Europe and Central Asia region. One in every five persons are under six years of age, with about 250,000 children born every year. However, Tajikistan’s preschool enrollment rate for 3–6-year-old children is around 12 percent—the lowest in Europe and Central Asia. Less than one-half of very young children receive adequate stimulation activities at home, which is critical for their healthy development.
The project will support Tajikistan in making critical investments in children, because as shown by research, children who participate in quality ECD programs are more prepared for learning when they begin school; they are more likely to earn more as adults, and less likely to engage in crime. The early years of life are a window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation for adulthood, and to better prepare people to compete in a fast-changing digital economy in the future.
The World Bank’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 15 projects, with net commitments of $726 million. The World Bank remains committed to supporting Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives of its people and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.