Early childhood education involves minor children, mainly below the age of 6 or 7 years. This form of schooling primarily aims at helping children develop in different areas before joining primary school. While most countries embrace early childhood education, the system differs from country to country or a particular region.
The PISA Programme for International Student Assessment program shows that students with an ECD background perform better than those who did not attend ECD. In most of the OECD countries, 71% of 3-year-old children get enrolled for ECD. Most of the children from these countries start formal education before reaching the age of 5 years.
ECD has attracted more children in recent years mainly because many parents today have to go to work. Therefore, for parents, ECD is an excellent way to ensure that the child grows and learns. However, systems and structures of early childhood education differ from one country to another.
Statistics show that nearly 86% of 4-year-olds join ECD programs in OECD countries. In Europe, children who join public pre-primary education centers are about 77%. In all the OECD Countries, 68% of children join public pre-primary centers.
In terms of expenditure, an average of 0.6% of GDP is spent on pre-primary education in OECD countries. Early childhood education takes up an average of 0.2% of the GDP. Important to note that private ECD centers enroll more children than public ECD centers in most countries around the world.
Children to teacher ratio
The ratio of children to teachers in ECD is vital in ensuring every child gets proper attention from the teacher. In Chile, ECD teachers are assigned more than 20 children. That is the case even in China, Mexico, and France.
In Australia, Sweden, and New Zealand, ECD teachers have less than ten children to take care of. EYLF in Australia mainly works round the clock to ensure proper child development through early childhood education. In the United Kingdom, teachers get to handle 14 children or less.
ECD is a critical stage to joining the primary school in most countries worldwide. That has seen significant development of early childhood development, with different countries integrating different models and activities of learning. In OECD countries, the enrolment of children for ECD rose by 15% by the year 2014.
The training of ECD teachers is an essential aspect in ensuring the quality of ECD. That promotes better learning and teacher to children interactions for better learning outcomes.
In many countries, ECD teachers’ professional satisfaction and motivation affect the system. For this reason, private ECD centers attract more children and teachers than public centers. In most cases, there are more children for each ECD teacher in the public ECD centers, which, in turn, affects the system outcomes.
Financing of early childhood education
Early childhood education is delicate and entails a lot of learning activities. Therefore, proper funding is critical to ensure quality ECD programs and children’s development. When there is adequate funding, enough teachers are employed and well maintained. There are also enough materials for children to learn and grow.
In countries where ECD is poorly funded, many parents prefer to take their children to private ECD centers, which means more financial strain. In some cases, some children are forced to remain at home when parents cannot support them for ECD. Public funding in most countries caters to public ECD centers, while in other countries, it also funds private centers to a particular extent.
In OECD countries, financing of every child for pre-primary education amounts to an average of USD 8 070 annually. However, in a country like Turkey, the annual expenditure for each child is USD 4 000 or less. In countries such as Norway, this expenditure is more than USD 14 000. For most countries, public spending is higher in public institutions.
A look at the ECD learning institutions in Europe shows that publicly funded institutions are more developed than private ones. Europe highly advocates universal access to education for all 3 to 6-year-olds, and the concept is well accepted. Therefore, most countries in Europe offer free, two years of pre-primary education that is publicly funded.
In Ireland and Netherlands, access to pre-primary education is a statutory right for children from the age of 3 years. In some countries like the Netherlands, spending in private ECD centers per pupil is nearly double that of public centers. In New Zealand, ECD expenditure for private centers is more than ten times that of public centers.
Early childhood education has proven to be an essential stage in the development of children. The systems are advanced in each country and region to cater to the needs of children. Good ECD centers are well developed and funded for better learning outcomes.