UBS Optimus Foundation: Early Childhood Development Study

Colin Felsman

With support from the UBS Optimus Foundation (UBSOF), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) recently concluded a landscaping study of the preprimary education sectors in one peri-urban area in each of four African cities: Accra, Ghana; Johannesburg, South Africa; Lagos, Nigeria; and Nairobi, Kenya.

The study aims to present descriptive details on access to and the quality of preschools in each area as well as broad insights on the state of early childhood education in poor, peri-urban neighborhoods across Sub-Saharan Africa. In each site, the preprimary education sector was found to be pervasive and largely dominated by the private sector. Indeed, the study revealed that “the explosion of low-cost private schools in peri-urban areas is at least as strong at the pre-primary level as it is at the primary level.” Interestingly, in many instances preschools were attached or affiliated with primary schools.

Percentage of Students Attending Private Preschools

Households cite educational benefits as the core motivation in investing a substantial portion of their income to send children between the ages of 3-6 to preschool as well in differentiating among providers. This finding lends more credence to the hypothesis that parents place great value on early childhood education—not just daycare. Still, while preschool enrollment rates were quite encouraging, the study revealed that “age-appropriateness of content and pedagogical approach is often questionable.”

Main Reasons for Choosing a Specific Preschool

UBSOF is currently exploring a more rigorous evaluation to examine the impact of demand-side interventions to improve preschool choice and quality, and ultimately child development outcomes. These “demand side” interventions would aim to (a) increase knowledge about early childhood development and education to increase informational access of caregivers when choosing a school, and (b) increase caregiver participation and involvement in school. UBSOF is interested in identifying potential partners to contribute to the next phase of this work.

For a more thorough overview of the study please see the document below.

Note: CEI has documented a number of promising ECD programs from across the world including Ilifa Labantwana, AieoTu, Chikkabiddy, and Hand in Hand. Look out for a more extensive review of ECD in the coming weeks!

See more Early Childhood Development blogs

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