This conference was organised by the OECD, the Ministry of Education and Science in Sweden
and the Swedish National Agency for Education
Early childhood education and care has experienced a surge of policy attention in OECD countries over the past decade. Policy makers have recognised that equitable access to quality early childhood education and care can strengthen the foundations of lifelong learning for all children and support the broad educational and social needs of families. There is a need to strengthen knowledge of the range of approaches adopted by different countries, along with the successes and challenges encountered. Recognising that this cross-national information and analysis can contribute to the improvement of policy development, the OECD Education Committee launched the Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care Policy in 1998.
Twelve countries volunteered to participate in the review: Australia, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The review has taken a broad and holistic approach that considers how policies, services, families, and communities can support young children’s early development and learning. The term early childhood education and care (ECEC) includes all arrangements providing care and education for children under compulsory school age, regardless of setting, funding, opening hours, or programme content. The methodology of the study has consisted of four elements: 1) preparation by participating countries of the background report; 2) review team visits to participating countries; 3) preparation of the country note; and 4) preparation of the comparative report.