Over a period of 18 months, UNESCO has been supported by Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, UNESCO's Special Envoy, to facilitate the creation and implementation of a Global Partnership Strategy on Early Childhood (GPS).
Born out of the need to counter a negative trend impulsed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen two-thirds of low and middle income countries reduce public education budgets, alongside the closure of many educational facilities, the process has seen numerous organisations, including Right to Education Initiative, collaborate on the development of the strategy.
The resulting strategy, which aims to support the design and implementation of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policies through galvanizing multi-stakeholder support, will be officially launched on 6 December 2021 in an online event.
Driven by the core principle of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, ‘Leaving no child behind’, the GPS aims to ensure ‘inclusive, accessible, affordable, gender-responsive, equitable, and developmentally appropriate’ ECCE/ECD services for all children
The global action plan of GPS will be driven in the following five strategic areas:
Harness Evidence for Action and Rights,
Leverage Data, Monitoring, and Evaluation for Accountability,
Promote Country Efforts to Scale-up Access, inclusion, Equity, and Quality.
Assist Countries and International Agencies to Strengthen Policy, Governance, Financing, and Advocacy
Galvanise International and National Coordination and Cooperation.
The GPS aims to achieve various targets in terms of policy development, financing, governance, research, capacity building, and inclusion in ECCE. It emphasises a focus on access, inclusion, equity, and quality ECCE, and, importantly, recognises the need for a normative framework on ECCE that recognises the rights of young children. One of the action plans includes an initiative for the development of an international normative framework that recognises the rights of children and families to receive universal access to quality and inclusive ECCE/ECD. While the GPS encourages member states to provide two or more years of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education, it aims to achieve that 100% of countries provide at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education by 2030.
Having contributed and partnered since the beginning of the GPS dialogue, the Right to Education Initiative welcomes the launch of GPS. While the work of RTE will contribute to realising the goals of the GPS, RTE hopes that the GPS can be instrumental to promoting and ensuring a legal guarantee both at the national and international level to provide at least one year of free, compulsory, quality, and inclusive ECCE. Further, we hope the GPS can facilitate member states to prioritise ECCE in the pandemic and post-pandemic era in their education response strategies, financial allocation, etc, and to ensure access for all children without any discrimination.