Taking quality early learning to scale

The foundations for all future learning and development are formed in the first years of life. That is why quality early learning – through interaction, play and exploration – is crucial not only to children themselves, but to society as a whole.

There is a strong global movement for expanding early learning, ideally as part of an integrated range of services to meet young children’s needs holistically. Early learning encompasses positive parenting, early stimulation, nutrition and health. Evidence shows, however, that quality can suffer when early learning programmes are taken to scale. Disadvantaged children are often left out.

Our goal of bringing early learning to scale focuses on programmes with the proven potential to enable learning from birth, especially among disadvantaged children – home visiting, responsive parenting, and preschool.

Scaling early learning is a goal in six of our country strategies and in our outreach to Roma children in the European region. Our focus differs from place to place, as do the challenges.

In Brazil, Peru and the Netherlands the Foundation and our partners are focused on early learning for children aged 0 to 3. In the scattered populations of the Amazon and Andes we are looking at home visiting models, while in the Netherlands the focus is on childcare centres.

In Israel and India we are working on preschool- and primary-age children. With our partners we are working to ensure fair public investment in preschool education for all children, regardless of their mother tongue or ethnicity.

In Tanzania and across Europe, public funds are under pressure. The governments of Brazil and Peru, however, have made major public funding commitments to young children. In these countries we still need to find ways of supporting governments, service providers and parents to overcome logistical, technical and bureaucratic challenges to reach the children who need it most.

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