Washington, D.C.- BEC's Early Childhood Education working group organized a CIES panel: "Influencing ECE policy around the world; four country-case studies of civil society engagement to promote early childhood education" and have received official acceptance to present at CIES 2018 in Mexico City. Panel abstract below:
In 2016, the Lancet series reported that in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, children were not fully developing their physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional potential partly due to a lack of adequate cognitive stimulation. In 2017, for the first time ever, the World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR18) focused on education, citing children’s lack of preparedness upon school entry as a key cause of the global “learning crisis.” Around the world, educators are striving to implement effective interventions for the youngest children with urgency. But, how can we convince national and international leaders to embrace the empirical evidence and enact policies that advance Early Childhood Education (ECE)?: Clearly, approaches to advocacy must be adapted to meet specific contexts. But what evidence, tools, and strategies can we identify and share across borders to advance our common goals?
This panel will discuss lessons learned in four diverse socio-political contexts, honoring the South-North dialogue theme of the conference. Representatives from RTI, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and the Basic Education Coalition will present evidence and strategies that are working to advance progressive ECE agendas in Jordan, Malawi, Mexico, and U.S. Foreign Policy, respectively. Knowledge exchange will focus on how the Global South has successfully prioritized ECE in education policy, and dialogue about opportunities for mutual support across geographical boundaries.
Presentation 1 of 4: (BEC) How Civil Societies Influence ECE Policies: Experiences with U.S. Foreign Policy
As a coalition of 25 U.S.-based organizations and universities, the Basic Education Coalition (BEC) seeks to apply the best of U.S. knowledge and expertise in support of the education development goals of the United States Government. We are dedicated partners of USAID with deep technical expertise in virtually every country in the developing world. We know that countries will not achieve, let alone sustain, social progress and economic growth without basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills learned in pre-primary, primary, and secondary school. Furthermore, we recognize that quality early education (ages 0-8) is the critical foundation for subsequent learning. In this session, we will present BEC’s early childhood education (ECE) advocacy strategies, activities, and achievements during 2017.
BEC supports the core USAID Education Strategy (2011-2017), which has shown promising results. However, to maximize impact of USG’s international initiatives, and boldly lead in the education space, we recommend that USAID should invest in quality early education and emphasize the importance of early childhood care and development. Specifically, we advocate for USAID’s next Education Strategy to include support for early childhood care and education, with multi-sectoral interventions that support child development from ages 0–8.
To advance our goals, BEC hosts an ECE working group of technical experts from BEC organizations. Together, they share evidence and facilitate dialogue between practitioners and policy-makers to generate awareness and support for ECE. The group began 2017 by publishing collaboratively-written recommendations for ECE policy and practice. The recommendations were distributed to the U.S. President-elect and his transition team, Members of U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of State and USAID. The group participated in advocacy trainings and met with Congressional staffers to promote their recommendations in March of 2017. Through these experiences, member-advocates identified effective pitches and compelling evidence. They also gained insight to counter-arguments and recognized gaps in research.
To broaden our reach and maximize impact, BEC’s ECE working group linked with outside partners. We joined the Global Agenda for Children taskforce, an informal multi-sector network advocating greater resources for early childhood initiatives in U.S. development policy. Together, this group conducted meetings with U.S. policy-makers and staff, hosted a briefing for Congressional staff and CSO stakeholders, and drafted new legislation to advance Early Childhood Development across sectors. Additionally, BEC’s ECE working group coordinated a panel presentation on integrated ECE programs for a diverse audience at InterAction’s annual forum and facilitated a focus group with USAID and the World Bank to discuss opportunities for implementation of ECE recommendations in the World Bank’s WDR18.
By leveraging our collective technical expertise and combining advocacy efforts, BEC’s ECE working group raised a unified voice to ensure U.S. policy makers support and strengthen ECE for the developing world. These concerted efforts contributed to the inclusion of ECE-supportive language in the U.S. House of Representatives’ FY18 State Foreign Operations Appropriation Report. They also contributed to the passage and enactment of the READ (Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development) Act, a landmark piece of legislation which prioritizes education in U.S. Foreign Assistance and calls for greater coordination between sectors. We look forward to learning from and collaborating with ECE advocates from the global South and identifying opportunities for mutual support in this global movement.