UNICEF’s first global report on pre-primary education presents a comprehensive analysis of the status of early childhood education worldwide. It is noted that at least 175 million children – 50 per cent of the world’s pre-primary-age population – are not enrolled in pre-primary programs during these vital years, deepening inequalities and missing a critical investment opportunity. The report urges governments to commit at least 10 per cent of their national education budgets to scale them up. Such funding should be invested in pre-primary teachers, quality standards and equitable expansion, the report states.
The reasons for this urge are clear – a solid body of evidence shows that the foundations for learning are largely built in the early years of life, before a child ever crosses the threshold of a primary school. Children who fall behind in these early years often never catch up with their peers, perpetuating a cycle of underachievement and high dropout rates that continue to harm vulnerable young people.
One of the greatest challenges developing countries face is the need to staff the pre-primary subsector with teachers who can nurture a love of learning in young children. Qualified teachers are already in short supply, and yet a massive increase in their numbers is required as countries look to fulfill the promise of universal pre-primary education.
The pupil-teacher ratio is significantly lower among high-income (14 to 1), upper-middle income (17 to 1) and lower-middle-income countries (20 to 1) than in low-income countries, where it averaged 34 to 1 in 2017. Estimating the pupil-teacher ratio under universal coverage of pre-primary education – that is the total number of pre-primary-age children in a country against the number of pre-primary teachers currently in the system – points to one of the major challenges of the pre-primary education workforce. The average ratio of pre-primary-age children to teachers in low-income countries in 2017 then increases from 34 to 1 to 216 to 1.
Based on such grim situation, MGEF would like to offer a vital foundation for children’s learning and embark on the path towards quality general pre-primary education with the joint work by affectionate organizations and individuals. Many of our volunteers are professional pre-primary school teachers so they are more likely to teach children in a systematic way. If volunteers have little or even no backgrounds of pre-primary education, there is no worry because MGEF will provide multi-language early childhood systematic education contents named Music Tree for teachers. Through the comprehensive contents package including picture books, teaching courseware, teaching aids, guidance book and other paired materials, the volunteers will be able to conduct the class conveniently thus passing down knowledge, skills and values to children.