Education – A better start for life by Padmini Ranaweera

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A better start for life

The foundations set in the first thousand days of a child’s life, from conception to the second
birthday are critical for the child’s future well-being. During the early years of a child the brain
develops to form millions of neuro connections. The early years, however, can be particularly
important not only because of the brain development, but because that same development
might facilitate and enhance subsequent growth and the productivity of subsequent
investments. It is important to understand the process of its formation of multidimensionality
of human capital, which is a very complex one. This process starts very early, probably even
before birth.

Corresponding to the global priorities in education it is becoming increasingly clear that human
development has many different dimensions that start evolving very early in life. The current
commitment of the global partners goes beyond just ensuring access, on to achieving quality in
basic education under ‘Education 2030’ which is an essential part of the global agenda for
sustainable development. Education 2030 is adopted at the World Education Forum in May
2015. The roadmap to achieve the ten targets of the said education goal is the ‘Education 2030
Framework for Action’ which provides guidance to the governments and developmental
partners on how to turn commitments to action.

The scope of the Global Education 2030 addresses key challenges in education. It reaches from
early childhood learning to youth and adult education and training. Also emphasizes the
acquisition of skills for work, underlines the importance of citizenship education in a plural and
interdependent world, focus on inclusion and equity and aims to ensure quality learning
outcomes for all throughout their lives.

From the time of world declaration on Education for All (1990), early childhood care and
education was recognized as the best way to assure the child’s smooth transition into primary
school. It is also known as a critical factor in the child’s subsequent transition to adulthood,
influencing both social skills and behavioral choices. Different skills of individuals play different
roles in the economy and have important implications for non‐economic outcomes as well,
such as physical and mental health, that are important for individual well‐being. There is
overwhelming evidence that socioeconomic disparities are associated with developmental
delays that emerge very early and grow dramatically during the first few years of life. Hence,
the developmental aspects of early years and its inclusion for policy are particularly relevant in
education planning in developing countries.

There are many reasons to consider early childhood as a national focus in the education policy
due to its multi-sectoral approach. The links between early childhood health, care and
education are strong and mutually reinforcing. These are often hidden or ignored by the
compartmentalized machinery of the implementation levels. Successful early childhood care
and education interventions help to build cognitive and non-cognitive skills at a time when
children’s brains develop resulting long term benefits. Therefore, a well‐designed and effective
policy needs a good understanding of the multi-sectoral mechanisms that drive for results.
In most of the developing countries governments face significant challenges in providing preprimary
education for every child and therefore the number of private sector institutions have
increased. However, there are wide variations among and between government and nongovernment
pre-primary education institutions in any context. This reiterates the need of the
stronger role of the government at policy level paying attention to the institutional
development and organizational strengthening including strategizing preparation of teachers
and care givers to address the learning needs of young children. A well-defined national
framework is required to ensure quality learning opportunities for every child to have the best
start in their lives.

By 2030, education policy need to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early
childhood development care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary
education. This is made clear in the global sustainable goals.

Padmini Ranaweera, BSc. (OUSL), BEd. (OUSL) MSc. (University of Kelaniya)
03 08 2018

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