Millions missing out:

Aid fails to make the grade on early years education

Calls for urgent action as report reveals nutrition and health projects take bulk of funds for children under six, while schooling gets 1%

According to koodakpress، Just 1% of international aid dedicated to young children’s development is being targeted on pre-school education, according to a report that warns spending is imbalanced and short-sighted.

While global funding for early childhood development has grown in recent years, almost all of this investment – 95% – has been channelled towards health and nutrition initiatives. Donors are deterred from spending on pre-school education, the report says, because the benefits of doing so are less immediate and visible.

The Netherlands and the US, which are among the largest donors to early childhood development, give nothing to pre-primary education. The UK, also a key donor, spends less than 1%, according to the analysis by Cambridge University academics for the children’s charity Theirworld.

Professor Pauline Rose, director of the Real Centre, University of Cambridge, and one of the report’s authors, said international donors need to wake up. “Investment in the early years requires access to good quality pre-primary education as well as health and nutrition,” she said. “It is time to take a good look at the numbers and commit to urgent action. If [donors] don’t, millions of children will fail to reach their full potential.”

Globally, 43% of children aged five years or under are thought to be at risk of poor development as a result of poverty and stunted growth. This is equivalent to 250 million children.

In order to meet the early childhood development targets set out in the sustainable development goals, donors must take a holistic approach, said the report.

But the study found spending had become even more imbalanced, with the proportion of early childhood development aid spent on pre-school programmes falling, from 3% to 1% between 2002 and 2016. Only a small number of donors provide significant support to this area, making it vulnerable to cuts if leaders’ priorities change.

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