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Early Years Fellowship



Early Years Fellowship

Investing in early childhood is critical to create opportunities for all children to grow into healthy, educated, and capable people and to address inequality and improve outcomes later in life.  Governments are increasingly seeking advice and support from the World Bank to increase investments in the early years and improve the quality of early childhood services. The World Bank Group’s Early Learning Partnership (ELP) launched the Early Years Fellowship in 2016 to support governments and World Bank teams to scale up investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) with a multi-sectoral approach across education, health, nutrition, social protection and other relevant sectors. Key objectives of the Fellowship include:

  1. To build the capacity of young professionals in countries to respond to client country needs related to ECD, thereby reducing reliance on technical assistance from abroad and ensuring a more sustainable, contextually specific and informed response to the challenges associated with scale-up of ECD services at country level;
  2. To improve the quality of ECD analytical work and program implementation in countries by increasing the number of experienced professionals available to advise and support country governments and World Bank teams on ECD; and
  3. To develop the next generation of leadership needed at the country level to scale-up investments in the early years.

Two cohorts have now graduated (20 young African professionals worked from 2017-2019 and a global cohort of 25 Fellows supporting 36 countries worked from 2020-2021). Both cohorts made substantial contributions to the World Bank and client countries’ engagement in early childhood, including through increasing cross-sectoral collaboration and through their technical contributions to analytical work and operations and contributing to early years systems-building. The Fellows had a major impact in expanding and improving the Bank’s portfolio of investments in ECD, leveraging a combined $3.4 billion in  resources for ECD through new and existing early years projects.

Cohort 3

In September 2022, Cohort 3 of Fellows began their work with the World Bank and countries. The selection process for the third cohort was highly competitive, with over 1200 applications received. This cohort of 14 Fellows will work in 17 countries across the globe (see map below). Country teams and Alumni Fellows were closely engaged in the recruitment process and to develop Fellows’ work programs. The cohort speaks a combined total of 14 languages and brings over 100 years of combined ECD work experience, with diverse backgrounds as teachers, researchers, and education, early childhood, health and child protection specialists. Over a quarter of Fellows have previously served in their country governments at the national level on policies, programs, and research to support young children and families.

These Fellows will spend the next two years working closely with World Bank staff and policymakers and partners in country to advance the ECD agenda in their home countries. Fellows will spend 20 percent of their time enrolled in a professional development program designed to strengthen their technical skills in ECD and their understanding of World Bank operations. The professional development program will include two networking summits, a capstone project, and various trainings and learning experiences on ECD themes and topics. The remaining 80 percent of their time is dedicated to a country specific work program in one or a combination of HD sectors across Education, Health, Nutrition and Population, or Social Protection. Cohort 3 Fellows will graduate in September 2024.

Learn more about Fellows’ profiles, backgrounds, and work programs.

Cohort Fellow Profiles

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2023