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%.
Professor Pauline Rose, director of the Real Centre, University of Cambridge, and one of the report’s authors, 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.”
“Benefits of investing in pre-primary education are found to be the greatest for the most disadvantaged, who are often the least prepared when starting primary school and are therefore most likely to be left behind,” said Sarah Brown, president of Theirworld. “But despite all the evidence, millions of children are continuing to miss out on the chance of a great start in life.”