100+ organisations call for G20 action on early years crisis

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown and Roger Federer promote Act For Early Years at an event in New York (Theirworld/Ilya Savenok)

The Roger Federer Foundation, UNICEF and Sesame Workshop are among those urging increased investment in childcare and pre-primary education.

More than 100 leading organisations have now supported a call for the G20 to urgently tackle the global early years crisis.

In the week that Brazil takes over the presidency of the G20, the Roger Federer Foundation, Sesame Workshop and UNICEF have signed an open letter to Brazilian President Lula da Silva. They join previous signatories such as the LEGO Foundation, International Rescue Committee and dozens of early childhood organisations.

The letter urges the president to use his country’s G20 role to address the severe lack of funding that means hundreds of millions of under-fives miss out on childcare or pre-primary education. Brazil has been a leader on child rights and investing in early childhood development.

The call for action was coordinated by Theirworld and the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) as part of the growing Act For Early Years campaign, which is supported by hundreds of children’s organisations, businesses, celebrities and youth activists.

Read the letter

The open letter to President Lula da Silva calls for increased investment from the world’s major economies and says international leaders are putting children’s futures at risk.

More than half of the world’s children – 350 million – do not have access to the childcare they need and about half of pre-primary aged children are not enrolled in any form of early education.

The letter’s signatories call on the G20 to revive a pledge they made in 2018 to invest in the early years, which has been blown off course by the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic downturn.

“Investing in the early years is both a moral must and a strategic win for the G20,” said Theirworld President Justin van Fleet.

“We know early learning has a problem with under-funding.” Roger Federer at an Act For Early Years event.

“Brazil has set a vision of building a fair world and a sustainable planet. Early years care is vital in that mission – it’s when the building blocks for a prosperous and equitable future for everyone are laid.

“The undeniable reality is that without early years support children are at risk of going through life with poorer physical and mental health. They face a struggle to learn and, later, to earn a living.

Elizabeth Lule, Executive Director of ECDAN, said: “The benefits of high-quality childcare are well documented and they cascade across society. Children benefit by being exposed to stimulating environments at a critical time in their development.

“Women benefit from having the opportunity to remain in or enter the workforce and build financial independence. And local and national economies benefit as new jobs are created, family incomes grow and tax revenue expands.”

Only 0.7%

of GDP is spent on early childhood education and care by high-income OECD countries

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown said: “The first five years of a child’s life are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children to flourish. But children in rich and poor countries alike are being let down on a global scale.

“This has huge ramifications for everyone, not least women who disproportionately bear the brunt of the childcare crisis, forcing them to leave the workforce because of unaffordable nursery fees.

“The G20 poses a fantastic opportunity to change this, giving leading nations the chance to pledge to end the global early years crisis. It’s time governments step up and provide young children the best opportunity to build a better and brighter future.”

Learn more about Act For Early Years