10 November 2022

A new thematic report, entitled “Building and strengthening the legal framework on ECCE rights: Achievements, challenges and actions for change” has been published in the context of the World Conference on Early Childhood Education and Care 2022 (WCECCE), which will be held in Tashkent between 14-16 November. The report was co authored by Rajakumari Michaelsamy, RTE’s ECCE Programme Manager, and Delphine Dorsi, RTE’s Executive Director, alongside Sharlene Bianchi, Agathe Charles-Bray, Sandra Fredman, Rolla Moumné, Katherine Ann Nguyen and Andres Figueroa Samper. 

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 aims to give context and meaning to ECCE rights, describe how they can be a gateway to achieving the right to education for all, and reach other human rights (Part II). The report then delves into the critical components of the ECCE framework by considering existing rights and obligations as well as reflecting on what deserves to be better protected in the international human rights framework to pave the way for supportive national policies (Part III). The report also considers possible options for evolving the right to education framework to enable the expansion of ECCE rights and their adequate protection in today’s context (Part IV). Finally, the report presents key highlights and articulates certain questions for consideration (Part V).

We are delighted to announce the publication of this report, which is the result of a fruitful collaboration between ourselves and UNESCO, 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).

Read the thematic document here