It is widely acknowledged that the assurance of effective early childhood care and development (ECCD) requires a holistic, multidimensional approach which encompasses the physical, cognitive, linguistic and socio emotional development of young children. Such an approach ultimately cuts across multiple sectors including health, education, social protection and nutrition and requires effective regulatory and policy frameworks to ensure its successful implementation.
This situation creates the challenge of not only facilitating the involvement and coordination of these different sectors, but measuring progress within each of these different components. Five new publications by UNESCO offer a review of indicators that seek to do this. Focusing on the areas of care, education and child development; policy and planning; social protection; legal protection and health and nutrition, the individual reviews provide an inventory of the principal indicators relating to five areas critical to ECCD as well as recommendations for the content of the Holistic Early Childhood Development Index (HECDI).
The proposal of the HECDI came about as a result of the World Conference of early childhood care and education (ECCE) organised by UNESCO in cooperation with the Russian Federation in 2010, where the ‘Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation: Harnessing the Wealth of Nations’ agenda was adopted. The action agenda invoked UNESCO to “to convene a working group to explore the development of an instrument capable of tracking progress towards EFA goal 1, with particular attention to quality and the holistic aspects of early childhood care and education.”
To develop the HECDI UNESCO has created an Interagency Technical Committee which is composed of childhood development experts from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Un Kilo de Ayuda (Mexico), Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF, the WFP, the WHO and the World Bank. This tool will assist in the monitoring and evaluation of ECCD initiatives and the measurement of progress within the different components of ECCD. It will also help to track progress in improving children’s general well-being.
It is estimated that the HECDI will be published in 2013.
Hannah Chadwick - Wikichild