Delivering Quality Early Learning In Low-Resource Settings: Progress And Challenges In Ethiopia

Ethiopia offers a case study in the development of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in low-resource settings, which needs to be understood in the context of recent government priorities to universalise primary education, and low levels of ECCE offered mainly by private and faith-based providers. In 2010, the Ethiopian government designed a national framework for ECCE which offers a real opportunity to strengthen quality and extend access to more disadvantaged groups. This paper reviews these developments, and reports research into the diverse early years trajectories of urban and rural Ethiopian children. The paper builds on the messages of earlier working papers in this Young Lives series, especially the importance of delivering the benefits of ECCE through quality programmes, strong government engagement and sufficient resources.

Conclusions include:

  • Donors and the government will need to source the additional resources for ECCE urgently to make progress in implementing the Ethiopian government’s 2010 ECCE Framework.
  • The government will therefore need to consider recruiting and training ECCE staff from outside the existing pool of teachers.
  • Older children engaging in Child-to-Child facilitation may need a small stipend to compensate for other work they may have done.
  • There is a risk that ECCE will become overly formalised if pre-school classes are attached to primary schools. The National Grade 1 curriculum and ECCE curriculum need to be better aligned. Different options, such as community centres, should be considered.

There is a need for stronger governance, regulation and quality assurance of non-governmental providers in urban areas. There should also be subsidy arrangements to ensure that the poorest children can access ECCE.

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