About 57 million girls and boys worldwide are still unable to attend school. On top of that, there are untold others who, although they attend school, still learn too little about essential aspects of life like health, hygiene, nutrition and conflict resolution.
Each of these children is in danger of being drawn into a vicious cycle of inadequate education and abject poverty, with all of the problems that this entails. To make matters worse, it is not only children but also entire families, societies and countries that are caught in this vicious cycle.
An important and often neglected aspect is early childhood education and development. The first few years of a child’s life are, from a psychological perspective, a decisive phase because they lay the cornerstone for further development. Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable individuals in a society.
Right from birth all individuals have the right to grow and develop in accordance with their own needs and abilities. The first years of a child’s life are crucial for its development because the brain develops more rapidly than in any other phase of life. Researchers say that 85 percent of the brain’s structures are fully developed by the age of three.
Early childhood education programmes that encompass the children’s social environment demonstrably strengthen family bonds, enhance social skills and lead to an improved nutritional situation.
Numerous studies prove that children who receive support and stimulation during their early years are more successful at school and at work later in life. Furthermore, many social disadvantages and hurdles can be avoided or tackled if children receive early education opportunities.
Until now, though, far too little has been done. While three out of four children benefit from early childhood education in industrialised countries, the ratio is only one in ten in some developing countries.
We must ensure the quality of education is such which serves every child developmentally. An inclusive, standardized education that realizes each child’s potential irrespective of their location or economic status.
Don’t allow words to alter their importance – everybody needs a quality education because education is power!
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