The importance of ensuring access for all to quality early childhood education in West and Central African countries was highlighted at a workshop organised by UNESCO BREDA in Dakar, Senegal, from 27-28 July.
This technical workshop on early learning outcomes and quality in selected African countries, a Measuring Early Learning Quality Outcomes (MELQO) initiative, brought together representatives of Education ministries from Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo, and of global organisations, including the UNESCO's Offices in from Tanzania and Togo, the Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems of the Conference of Education Ministers from Francophone States and Governments, and Education International (EI).
The objective of the workshop was to provide a platform for discussion among country stakeholders from the involved countries about early childhood education, as articulated within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) and within the context of the MELQO, as well as building connections with regional efforts to achieve quality education.
The UN and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as complementary projects, are committed to promote universal access to high quality in early childhood education, noted EI Africa Regional Coordinator Pedi Anawi.
“The workshop provided an excellent platform for discussion on ways to reach national education priorities on early childhood development and learning, particularly in relation to the second target of the SDG 4 urging governments to ensure, by 2030, ‘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’,” Anawi stressed.
EI: Early childhood education is a human right
Commending organisers for involving teachers and education workers’ unions, which gave the initiative a holistic aspect, Anawi gave a presentation on “Why measure early learning,” highlighting EI’s vision of early childhood education as a human right, and listing its many benefits. He also indicated that, like other levels of education, early education required specific conditions to achieve quality outcomes.
He concluded by saying that the overall purpose of evaluating early childhood education should be to help teachers, administrators, policymakers, planners, and other stakeholders make appropriate decisions about how to best teach children, and reminded participants of the need for more investment in early childhood education.