Early childhood and schools

Early Childhood Education and Care


Bookmark this page: www.oecd.org/edu/earlychildhood


Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy priority in many countries. A growing body of research recognises that ECEC brings a wide range of benefits, including social and economic benefits; better child well-being and learning outcomes; more equitable outcomes and reduction of poverty; increased intergenerational social mobility; higher female labour market participation and gender equality; increased fertility rates; and better social and economic development for society at large.

These positive benefits are directly related to the “quality” of ECEC. The OECD’s Starting Strong III has attempted to address the question of what constitutes quality and builds on the publications Starting Strong I and Starting Strong II. As a result, five areas of quality have been identified that can be leveraged by policies for better child development: 1) quality goals and minimum standards; 2) curriculum and learning standards; 3) workforce quality; 4) family and community engagement; and 5) data, research and monitoring. Of the five areas, country information and practices on “data, research and monitoring” in ECEC are particularly under-researched.  To collect more data on ECEC for international comparison and consolidate information on how countries measure quality and assess their progress in improving it, the current project, Review of Policies and Practices for Monitoring Quality in Early Learning and Development is being carried out for the programme of work 2013-14. The project will produce a Starting Strong report on monitoring quality in ECEC, advance date development in ECEC and provide individual country policy reviews for participating countries.

Flyer on the OECD International ECEC Staff Survey
The OECD’s new international survey on early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff and quality in ECEC.

Early Childhood Education and Care Policy Review - Norway
Norway’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) system has experienced a strong expansion over the last decade. More children than ever are enrolled in its kindergartens.

OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care
The Network upholds the mandate of the Education Policy Committee to assist countries to develop effective and efficient policies for education and learning to meet individual, social, cultural and economic objectives. The Network meets bi-annually, and the theme of each meeting is determined according to the policy priorities of Network members.

Review of Policies and Practices for Monitoring Quality in Early Learning and Development
Explanation of the 2013-14 project “Review of Policies and Practices for Monitoring Quality in Early Learning and Development”

Starting Strong III: A Quality Toolbox for Early Childhood Education and Care (OECD, 2012)
This new publication focuses on quality issues: it aims to define quality and outlines five policy levers that can enhance it in ECEC. In addition, it provides busy policy makers with practical tools such as research briefs, international comparisons, country examples, self-reflection sheets, etc., in order to successfully implement these policy levers.

Starting Strong III: A Quality Toolbox for ECEC – online version
The online version of the Quality Toolbox presents the five policy levers found to enhance quality in ECEC and contains several components not found in the publication, including a web page that compiles a sample of approaches used by governments to improve ECEC within their country. Links to websites, reports, frameworks, guides, training videos, brochures, etc. have been categorised by the five levers of the toolbox.

Quality Matters in ECEC: Country Policy Profiles
This series of country reports focuses on issues of  quality in ECEC. Each report tackles a specific theme that was selected by the country reviewed. These reports suggest strengths and point to areas for further reflection on current policy initiatives.

OECD-Norway High-level Roundtable
“Starting Strong: Implementing Policies for High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care” – 24 January 2012
The Roundtable, co-hosted by the OECD and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, brings together policymakers, experts and stakeholders to address the key issues in ECEC. Additionally, the launch of Starting Strong III takes place at this event. 

Archived OECD work on ECEC
The OECD’s work ECEC was initiated by the OECD Education Committee in 1996. Reviews of countries’ national ECEC policies and systems were carried out from 1998-2004. Detailed information and review outputs can be accessed here.