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Credit: © ISSA / Elma Okic
20 July 2021

On Monday 12 July, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution by consensus, sponsored by 54 States, which, among other significant emphases, highlights the importance of early childhood care and education (ECCE).

Concretely, the resolution expresses concern regarding the numbers of children globally who do not receive pre-primary education - estimated to be at least 175 million - and reiterates the importance of early childhood care and education as a foundation of both lifelong learning and education systems. Furthermore, the resolution emphasises the “significant importance of investment” at all levels of education, stresses the need to invest in ECCE, and subsequently calls on States to ensure adequate budgetary provision for education at all of its various levels. Finally, the resolution calls upon States to consider the reopening of education institutions and consider the impact of closures on all learners, including those at pre-primary level. 

Consult the key paragraphs of the UN resolution relating to pre-primary education:

(Preliminary paragraph) Expressing concern that, in spite of the progress achieved in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, there are still 773 million adults who are not literate, two thirds of whom are women, and 258 million children, adolescents and youth who do not attend school, and that, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 50 per cent of pre-primary-age children around the world – at least 175 million – are not enrolled in pre-primary education,

(Preliminary paragraph) Reiterating the importance of early childhood development as a valuable foundation of lifelong learning and the entire education system, and the need to invest in early childhood education and care, and calls upon States to consider re-opening education institutions as a priority

(7.) Also calls upon States to take all measures necessary, including by making education a priority in their national budgets by granting sufficient budgetary allocations to education, to ensure accessible, inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory quality education all at all levels, and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, paying particular attention to women and girls, children in the most vulnerable and marginalized situations, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and all persons in vulnerable and marginalized situations , including those affected by humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations;

(14.) Calls upon States, in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, to consider re-opening education institutions as a priority with adequate attention to the health and safety of students, teachers and all other educational personnel; to conduct a careful assessment of the impact of the closures of educational institutions on all learners from early childhood to adulthood, taking into account the intersectionality of discrimination, and to adopt or enhance targeted measures, including through international cooperation, to mitigate the impact of such closures, especially on those learners in most vulnerable situations;.

These provisions in the UN Resolution are significant, and highlight the importance of ECCE to individuals, education systems and communities. RTE is involved in significant activity to extend the provision and access to ECCE at a global level, in order to read SDG 4 by 2030. In particular, we are involved in the development of the UNESCO Global Partnership Strategy for Early Childhood, which seeks to mobilise all nations and relevant international agencies to collaborate and reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets related to ECCE.

Consult our Early Childhood Care and Education Page, and read about our expert-led panel at the 2021 Comparative Education and Society Conference and the call to strengthen national and international frameworks to ensure universal access to quality ECCE for all. 

Read the resolution in English, French, and Spanish, and consult the civil society statement on the resolution here.