Since the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All targets were proclaimed in 2000, considerable progress has been made in regard to enhancing the wellbeing of young children including an increase in both the supply of and demand for pre-primary education. In comparison to 1999, by 2012 the global pre-primary GER increased by 64 per cent to 54 per cent. But many young children, including 78 per cent in the Arab States and over 80 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, still have no access to these programmes as the result of both low supply and low demand.
Obstacles to further increasing the demand for ECD services include structural and political factors, a lack of visibility of these services, poor quality including their lack of adaptability to the individual needs of their clients, high costs to both providers and the consumers, and cultural and contextual constraints such as low parental and community awareness of the benefits of ECD.
But policies and strategies can be designed to increase demand. These include laws, policies, and action plans – and more financing – meant to expand affordable ECD services; an increase in the awareness of parents and communities of the benefits of ECD; the promotion of holistic, integrated approaches to early childhood; the clear definition of standards of quality both of ECD services and of children’s early learning and development, and strategies and programmes to identify and support those groups most in need of quality ECD services.