UNESCO Member States commit to invest at least 10% of education budget on early childhood education

Countries committed to invest at least 10% of total education spending on pre-primary education and to ensure that salaries and working conditions of pre-school personnel are at least at par with those of primary education teachers at the UNESCO Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 14-16 November 2022. They also reaffirmed the commitment to guarantee at least one year of free pre-primary education, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Research in neurosciences and social sciences shows that 85% of brain development takes place in the first 5 years of life. In particular, the first 3 years of life is vital to awaken children’s potential. To call attention to this important phase of a child’s development and to renew commitments to early childhood care and education, over 2,500 participants from 147 countries gathered at the World Conference, including heads of states, ministers, educators and experts.

Investing in early childhood is crucial to reduce social inequalities, which begin even before birth. For a long time, early childhood has been a blind spot in public policy. Increasing funding, both national and international, will make a difference for future generations.
Audrey Azoulay UNESCO Director-General

The conference’s final document, the Tashkent Declaration, adopted by countries on the last day of the conference, reaffirms the right of all children to pre-primary education and further calls for greater attention to environmental education to ensure that awareness of climate change and sustainable development starts in the early years.

It is very urgent to solve the issue of quality education for young children at the global level and to develop joint solutions to these issues.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev President of Uzbekistan

He urged that early childhood education be included as a main topic of the UN’s Summit for the Future in 2024.

A UNESCO report prepared for the conference showed that globally, participation in pre-primary education has grown significantly over the past ten years, increasing from 46% in 2010 to 61% in 2020. However, participation rate is barely 20% in low-income countries, while budget allocation to pre-primary education in these countries stands at 2% of total education budgets. Today, 1 out of 4 young children under 5 never had any form for pre-primary education, which represents 33 million out of 134 million.

One of the obstacles is the lack of qualified pre-primary teachers and caregivers. UNESCO estimates that another 9.3 million full-time educators are needed to make pre-primary education universal by 2030. Other challenges include policy fragmentation and lack of public provision.

In 2023, UNESCO will work with its partners to define the first international standards for the professional certification of early childhood educators, like those that already exist for primary and secondary teachers. To keep the momentum of the Conference, it will also collaborate with partners, including UNICEF and the World Bank, to publish a global report on early childhood every two years, to inform public policies.

The World Conference was organized by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan.

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