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VideoJanuary 23, 2024

The importance of investing in a high-quality Early Childhood Education in Latin America and the Caribbean

"We are facing the most serious education crisis in the last 100 years".  These words are from Emanuela Di Gropello, Education Practice Manager in Latin America and the Caribbean, who, in the event on the importance of investing in quality Early Childhood Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in El Salvador last December, shares some words about the subject.

What is Early Childhood Education and why is it important to invest in it?

Early Childhood Education is that educational cycle that covers the youngest children. And it is essential to invest in it, because it is this educational level that really develops all the basic cognitive and socioemotional skills for children, as well as executive functions. And these competencies, children take with them for life.

What are the main challenges for Early Childhood Education in Latin America and the Caribbean?

The first challenge, perhaps, is funding. Of course education is not just a question of resources, but resources are important.  And when we see that countries spend on average between six to ten percent of their education budget on Early Childhood Education, it is striking: why do they spend so little on the most important level of education?

Now, the most important of all, is the challenge of quality. An Early Education where children really learn, begin to learn, where the pedagogical models are effective; where the teachers, the teachers are prepared; where the learning environments are really safe, and conducive to learning. And, unfortunately, we see that it is still not approached from that point of view.

And, in addition, we see that lower income children sometimes suffer from lower quality Early Education as well.

And amidst these challenges, do you see any opportunities?

Of course there are opportunities. In this context, Early Childhood Education, can and must play a fundamental role. There will be no recovery if we don't really start at the base, if we don't start with the youngest children.

What is the key to the balance between this push that must be given to Early Childhood Education, and continuing to attend to the rest of the student's life cycle?

The fundamental thing to understand is that if there is a cost-effective investment, it is an investing in Early Childhood. In other words, if you develop and educate children well, when they are very young, they will have a successful educational and life trajectory. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to recover what they have not acquired later in their lifetimes.

This does not mean that we should not continue to strengthen the other educational levels. Of course we have to do it, but without strengthening pre-primary Education it will be difficult.