Early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development—affecting learning, health, behavior, and ultimately, income. There is a growing body of evidence that early childhood nutrition and early stimulation and learning programs to extend school completion all improve learning outcomes. Despite the proven and lifelong benefits, more than 175 million children—nearly half of all pre-primary-age children globally—are not enrolled in pre-primary education.1 For children who do have access to early childhood education, poorly trained educators, overcrowded and unstimulating environments, and unsuitable curricula diminish the quality of their experiences. How can researchers collaborate with educators and policymakers to ensure children have opportunities to reach their full potential? What are the implications of this research in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
On June 29, IPA hosted a webinar titled “Promoting Early Childhood Development: Recent Evidence and Policy Lessons,” the third webinar in a three-part series on evidence in education, from preparing young adults for the workforce to school management to early childhood development.
This panel discussed evidence that can inform ECD programming and policy around the world. Elisabetta Aurino (Imperial College London) discussed how household food insecurity was associated with negative early childhood development outcomes in Ghana based on longitudinal data. Emma Naslund-Hadley (Inter-American Development Bank) highlighted the impact of bilingual and intercultural preschool math curricula in Panama on the math skills of preschool-aged children in the Ngäbe region, home to its largest indigenous population and the most impoverished region in the country. Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam (IPA) and Horacio Álvarez Marinelli (IDB) provided insights on using evidence to inform policy, and Sarah Kabay (IPA) hosted and moderated.
The presentations were followed by a discussion and Q&A on how the evidence can inform policy, particularly in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the webinar recording below:
- Elisabetta Aurino, Research Fellow, Imperial College London
- Emma Naslund-Hadley, Lead Education Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank
- Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, IPA Policy Advisor, Formerly Ghana Ministry of Education
- Horacio Álvarez Marinelli, Senior Education Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank
- Sarah Kabay, Education Program Director, IPA
 UNICEF. 2019. “A World Ready to Learn: Prioritizing Quality Early Childhood Education.” https://data.unicef.org/resources/a-world-ready-to-learn-report/