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Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)

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Community Kindergarten Center, Matameye, Niger (Photo Courtesy of MOE and Technical and Financial partners)The World Bank is seeking to scale up country level support towards including ECD dimensions in operations in education, social protection, and nutrition. With support from the Education Program Development Fund (EPDF), and in collaboration with key development partners, the World Bank launched the Africa Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD) Initiative in September 2008 to help countries integrate ECD programs into the design and implementation of Education Sector Plans that have been endorsed by the EFA-Fast Track Initiative (FTI) or are in the pipeline for endorsement.

What's new:

Handbook of African Educational Theories and Practices

The Early Childhood Development Virtual University

ECDVU full report    

ECDVU summary report

Watch the ECDVU video

ECDVU newsletter


The main objectives of the Africa ECD Initiative are to:

  1. Improve the capacity of African countries to attain EFA Goals and MDGs by laying a strong foundation, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
  2. Increase understanding among stakeholders of the importance of children’s early development and learning as a key ingredient in achieving EFA goals.
  3. Foster the scaling up of ECD policies and programs by helping countries obtain sustainable funding for cost-effective approaches.

Why Invest in Early Childhood Development in Africa?

1. Children have Rights in Early Childhood

  • The General Assembly of the United Nations recently added a resolution as an addendum to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the implementation of child rights in early childhood (August 2010). The resolution discusses the responsibility of individuals and nations to protect children, ensuring their survival and development. It recognizes children as active participants in the world who deserve respect and support.

2. Early Childhood Development (ECD) improves equity

  • ECD programs improve the health, nutrition, and education outcomes of children. Research shows that ECD interventions benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged children the most even though these children currently are the least likely to have access to them. In addition, it is more difficult and more costly to intervene later in children's lives.

3. ECD is Essential for EFA-FTI Goals

  • The Education for All-Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) was launched in 2002 as an agreement between low-income countries and their development partners to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal primary school completion by 2015 and gender parity in primary and secondary education by 2005. Early childhood care and development (ECD) programs are necessary as the first step to realize the promise of investments in primary and secondary education. When countries invest in ECD services, they set the stage for later learning and productivity.

4. ECD is a Cost-Effective Strategy for Developing Human Capital

  • Children who participate in quality ECD programs are able to participate in primary school tasks more quickly and successfully. They are less likely to repeat grades or dropout of school, which reduces overall costs in the education system. When adults, their earning potential is higher and they are less likely to engage in crime.

ECCD Fact Sheet         ECCD Pamphlet 


Countries and Activities

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Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania/Zanzibar, and Zambia

Zanzibara'€™s RISE project extends ECD to under-served children via mentors and a radio program.The Africa ECCD Team is providing country-level analytical support to 10 countries selected through a competitive process. For each of these countries, country stakeholders (e.g., government ministries and agencies, donors, UNICEF, UNESCO, NGOs), in collaboration with a World Bank Task Team Leader for education, have identified the key strategic tasks to be addressed and funded through 2010.

Analytic support includes activities to:

  • Generate knowledge on ECCD policies and programs and conduct situational analyses, develop national policy and strategy, and design pilot projects.
  • Support design and implementation of ECCD components in education sector plans and programs in poverty reduction strategies.
  • Foster in-country dialogue, consensus building, and capacity development related to ECCD programming.
  • Work with countries to obtain sustainable funding from the FTI Catalytic Fund and other sources to expand cost-effective and well-targeted ECCD programs, especially for children who are most disadvantaged.

The World Bank is exploring the possibility of supporting additional countries in 2010-2011.

Additional Activities

In addition, the Africa ECCD Initiative is supporting activities in 2010-2011 to:

  • Generate knowledge of cost-effective ECCD programs in Africa by contributing to impact evaluations of selected ECCD projects and disseminating lessons learned to policymakers, practitioners, and development partners.
  • Exchange ECCD policy and program experiences regionally by convening regional technical workshops for the countries receiving country-level analytical support.
  • Build regional leadership and capacity in partnership with other donors by convening a 4th ECD Virtual University cohort of emerging government, civil society, and higher education and developing a new virtual university focused on early childhood nutrition.



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Cape Town Workshop Presentations (July 2010)

In English:

En Francais:

Zanzibar Workshop Presentations (October 2009)

In English:

En Francais:

Early Childhood Development in Action: Implementation of Quality Care, Development, and Education for Young Children (July 26-28, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa):


First Technical Workshop of the Africa Early Childhood Care and Development Initiative (Zanzibar, Tanzania October 26-28, 2009)



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World Bank Publications

InvestingNaudeau, Sophie, Naoko Kataoka, Valerio Alexandria, Michelle J. Neuman, and Leslie Kennedy Elder. 2011— Investing in Young Children: An Early Childhood Development Guide for Policy Dialogue and Project Preparation. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.



Garcia's bookGarcia, M., Pence, A., Evans, J.L. eds. 2008. Africa's Future, Africa's Challenge: Early Childhood Care and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.Washington, DC: The World Bank



Evans, J.L., R. Myers, and E.M. Illfeld. 2000. Early Childhood Counts— A Programming Guide on Early Childhood Care for Development. Washington, DC: World Bank Institute, The World Bank.


From ECDYoung, M.E., ed. 2002. From Early Child Development to Human Development: Investing in Our Children's Future. Washington, DC: The World Bank.



Young, M.E., with L.M. Richardson, eds. 2007. Early Child Development — From Measurement to Action. A Priority for Growth and Equity. Washington, DC: The World Bank.


No Small MatterHarold Alderman. 2011 - No Small Matter: The Impact of Poverty, Shocks, and Human Capital Investments in Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: The World Bank.



Lia C. H. Fernald, Patricia Kariger, Patrice Engle, Abbie Raikes. 2009. Examining Early Child Development in Low-Income Countries: A Toolkit for the Assessment of Children in the First Five Years of Life.Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Other Publications

Online Resources



World Bank Contacts

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