World Bank can help to make early childhood care a global priority

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By the time a child reaches five years old, 90% of their brain has already developed (UNICEF)

Meetings of key decision-makers in Washington this week could be an important milestone for young children from the world's poorest and most marginalised communities.

Every child in the world deserves the best start in life. 90% of the brain develops during the first five years – and quality care then can set up a child to be healthy, do well at school and eventually succeed in the workplace.

But 250 million children under five are prevented from reaching their full potential because they live in poverty, have poor nutrition and health services, or just lack good care.

That’s why Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign has been urging world leaders to invest in early childhood development. It’s essential for every child – but it’s also rewarding in the long run for their communities and their countries’ economies.

The World Bank has been a leader on ECD, providing nearly half of all official development assistance in 2015. But the gap between the global need and existing funding is still enormous.

“Many governments around the world are not investing enough to support children at this crucial stage and children from the poorest and most marginalised communities are missing out the most,” said Ben Hewitt, Theirworld’s Campaign and Communications Director.

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Preschool children in Ecuador receive lunch (UNHCR)

This week there’s an opportunity for early childhood development (ECD) in the poorest countries to take a giant leap forward, when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund host the annual Spring Meetings in Washington, DC.

“Quality early years care for kids under five shouldn’t be a luxury.”

The Spring Meetings – attended by top decision-makers from governments, civil society organisations, finance and business – are a key moment in the international calendar.

Theirworld believes the World Bank has an opportunity to show even greater leadership on making early years care a priority.

Investing in ECD is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

  1. Support the establishment of the International Finance Facility for Education to leverage a signifcant increase in funding for early learning programmes
  2. Expand the Global Financing Facility (GFF) to fund more early childhood development and education initiatives
  3. Encourage client countries and WorldBank operations to prioritise early childhood development, contributing to the overall lending target of 15% to education

The World Bank could also create a Special Envoy for Early Childhood Development to serve as a global champion for the issue.

“Theirworld campaigners will be attending meetings in Washington hosted by Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, who has the power to put early childhood development at the top of its agenda,” said Ben.

“This could be a really important milestone for children getting the best start in life.”

Learn more about the Spring Meetings.

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