UN pledge on early years care as Theirworld hands over pre-primary education report

Gya 2 Benedict Joson
Benedict Joson and fellow youth advocate Naomi with UNESCO chief Irina Bokova (Theirworld)

Child nutrition (Early years), Childcare, Early childhood development, Global Youth Ambassadors, Safe pregnancy and birth, Theirworld, United Nations General Assembly

The President of the UN General Assembly said "practical strategies" are needed to ensure every child in the world gets quality early education.

The United Nations has restated its commitment to give every child in the world access to quality early years care.

The pledge was made by Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, at a high-level meeting on education in New York yesterday.

He said: “Specific strategies to ensure universal completion of early childhood education have to be developed through inclusive events such as today’s gathering.  

“We need coherent, practical strategies for the development of children’s physical, cognitive and emotional skills to set up positive adult productivity and behaviour.”

Gya 1 Benedict Joson

Our GYA hands over Theirworld’s ECD report to Dessima Williams, Special Advisor for the Implementation of the SDGs, at the UN (Theirworld)

The UN commitment follows a new report from Theirworld, which highlighted a severe lack of investment in early years education.

It showed that 85% of children in low-income countries do not have access to pre-primary education and more than 200 million children under the age of five are at risk of failing to reach their potential.

Despite this, the international community is not doing enough to incentivise governments to invest in pre-primary education. It gets less than 1% of international aid.

A copy of the report – titled Bright and Early – was handed over at the High-Level SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Action Event to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova by one of Theirworld’s network of Global Youth Ambassadors.

Benedict Joson, from the Philippines, said: ““The Theirworld report drew interest and enthusiasm from Dessima Williams and Irina Bokova, who agree on the importance of education and early childhood development.

“Afterwards, Dr Williams (Special Adviser for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals) gave me a Global Goals pin to carry forward the SDGs and #SDG4Action forward.”

Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign has been calling on world leaders to invest in early childhood development.

Our Bright and Early report said governments and donors need to dramatically increase investment in pre-primary education from $11 billion to $44 billion if every child is to have the chance to do well in school and succeed in adult life.

Gya 3 Benedict Joson

Benedict at the UN with other youth activists (Theirworld)

That funding must be targeted at the most marginalised children in the poorest countries.

Other key statistics in the report include:

  • Donor governments give 26 times more to higher education scholarships than pre-primary, even though this overwhelmingly benefits wealthier students
  • Only 38 countries currently provide free compulsory pre-primary education
  • Just over two cents per day for each child is spent on pre-primary in low income

The UN event was held in partnership with key stakeholders on Sustainable Development Goal 4 – “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”.

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