(Berlin/Duisburg, 23 September, 2015) Early childhood education provides a means of finally winning the fight against poverty. Indeed, high-quality education for young girls and boys has the potential to strengthen the long-term development of entire societies. These were the results of a study conducted by Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University on behalf of Kindernothilfe and presented today in Berlin.
The study provides empirical proof that early intervention and education for children has a significantly greater impact than all of the later measures taken in the area of youth work and adult education.
Nevertheless, the development of early childhood education programmes is only making slow progress in many African, Latin American and Asian countries. Only one out of five children in developing countries have access to preschool education programmes — which, to make matters worse, are expensive and often of poor quality.
Nevertheless, early childhood initiatives in families and preschool institutions have a decisive influence on subsequent learning and educational successes, as the study conducted by Prof. Reinhard Markowetz of the University of Munich clearly demonstrated. "Young girls and boys in structurally weak, rural regions and in disaster areas also have a right to early childhood education, as do children who are affected by social exclusion and discrimination due to their ethnic origins, their gender, their social group affiliations or a disability", says Katrin Weidemann, Chairperson of Kindernothilfe. "Early intervention represents a huge opportunity for these children in particular".
Early childhood education should always take a holistic approach: The programmes must meet the children's social, emotional, psychological and physical needs. The goal is to discover their individual talents, encourage them to think independently and develop a sense of self-assurance.
In addition to initiatives designed to meet the children's basic needs for nutrition, health and hygiene, the authors of the study generally recommend training programmes for adults and educational campaigns that enhance people's appreciation of the importance of early childhood education in each society. Furthermore, they advise that significantly more funding be made available in this area of education to expand cooperations and interdisciplinary networks, and they recommend closer cooperation with government agencies. Katrin Weidemann: "Although the importance of early childhood education appears to be recognised by many decision-makers, this realisation still too rarely leads to concrete actions — and the situation is no different in Germany". Kindernothilfe is urging Germany to invest ten percent of its development aid money in basic education, including early childhood education. The current amount is only two percent.