Education sector strategy 2020 : background paper on Early Child Development (ECD)
Failing to invest in ECD is costly, if not impossible, to compensate for later in life. A 2007 analysis of data from children in developing countries revealed that 200 million children under five years of age are exposed to multiple risks that detrimentally affect their development. The consequences can be dramatic. For example, while differences in age-adjusted vocabulary among 3-year old Ecuadorian children are generally small, steep socioeconomic ‘gradients’ appear in the following years. By age 6, children in less wealthy households and children born to mothers with low education levels have fallen far behind their counterparts in wealthier or more educated households. Associations between poverty and multiple domains of child development (including cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional) were also recorded at as early as 6 months of age in Egypt, 12 months in Brazil, 10 months in India, and 18 months in Bangladesh. For all these poor or otherwise disadvantaged children, early gaps in physical, linguistic, cognitive, and socio-emotional development seriously jeopardize their capacity and motivation to learn upon primary school entry. As they become older, these children are more likely to have poor academic performance, to repeat grades, and to drop out of school than those whose cognitive skills and overall school readiness were higher upon primary school entry which leads to costly inefficiencies in the public education system.