There is undisputed recognition of the critical importance of the first years of a child’s life for development and that ensuring access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) provides tremendous benefits throughout life. Yet, despite progress made in recent years, the most disadvantaged continue to face considerable challenges in accessing quality and inclusive early childhood programmes and services with great disparities within and across countries.
The expanding digital environment and the wide-ranging modes of ECCE settings, further underline the need for greater state guidance.Perhaps more so than any other age group, children, from birth to the age of eight, require legal and policy measures that ensure a holistic, integrated and multisectoral approach, as not only are they highly dependent on their parents and caregivers, but their education, health, care and development are all firmly interconnected, making the realization of ECCE rights particularly complex.
Besides, as the right to education begins at birth and continues throughout life, adopting a lifelong learning approach has now become a fundamental right from the early years, including through ensuring equitable access to quality, free and compulsory pre-primary education.By adopting a rights-based approach, this thematic report aims to unravel the existing rights and obligations that states should comply with while evaluating how, in light of today's challenges, the right to ECCE can be further protected in the international human rights framework and national education systems. ECCE is a human right yet significant inequalities persist in terms of access to quality services with those who would benefit most often excluded.
This Thematic Report was published in the context of the World Conference on Early Childhood Education and Care 2022 and is the result of a fruitful collaboration between UNESCO, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), the Oxford Human Rights Hub (Oxford University), the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education (OHCHR), and the Latin American Campaign for the Right to education (CLADE).
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