Saturday, August 11, 2012


UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
One of their focuses is Education with a sub-theme interest in strengthening early childhood systems.

This week I spent some time exploring this portion of UNESCO's work.  There are links for their mission, strategies for achieving their mission, the history, policy briefs, country profiles, and more.  There are four areas that UNESCO has placed their focus in working in Early Childhood.  They are: Access & Equity, Quality, Investment & Financing, and Coordination & Integration.

Assessiblity to quality early childhood care and education is greatly important to me.  But this access in my opinion needs to be for all and not just the poor or not just the advantaged.  Because of this, I looked into this area with some depth.  There is an article on Vietnam's early childhood policy from 2005.  While the report is dated, it did provide some interesting information.

Vietnam has a pro-poor policy for early childhood.  Their early childhood programs (for children birth through 5 years old) are available for children of all economic statuses yet 42% are "state" meaning there is no fee to attend, these are for the "poorest" children.  Then there are semi-state schools (48%) where families must pay a fee, which covers the teacher's salary and the balance is covered by the state.  The remaining schools are "people-founded" or "private" and although they receive no financial support from the state, the state sets standards, monitors & evaluates the programs.  Sounds a bit like the U.S.  BUT ....  the final question posed and answer must be shared:

Choi: Finally, although many challenges remain, Vietnam seems to have been successful in developing and implementing concrete pro-poor early childhood policy measures. What would you single out as the success factors?
Tuyet: In Vietnam, the Ministry of Education and Training is responsible for the entire early childhood age group, and is the lead sector for early childhood. This makes it easier to develop and implement policies and monitor progress. We do not have to waste effort on coordinating different initiatives by different sectors. More important, the state has always been committed to investing in early childhood. This has made it possible to cater for the early childhood needs of the poorest. Without state investment, the equity issue cannot be tackled efficiently.
This is where the U.S. differs.  We have not be able to develop one unifying governmental leader and there isn't a strong commitment on the government's part for investing in early childhood.  We do have funds and some leadership, but it isn't enough.

While I am passionate about this issue.  I am not sure what kind of a voice I have in making a difference.  My primary goal in early childhood is to see that all children have the ability and opportunity to participate in quality early childhood care and education from birth through Kindergarten.  I thought my means to see this happen was through the road of preschool director.  Now I don't know.  I wish I did, but I don't.


  1. I like your view on early childhood education for all. I to feel that education's access should not be dependent on your socio-economic status...rather rich or poor, and in fact feel that those in the middle are often over looked, especially in the United States. This is quite concerning to me. Though the research and findings benefit the cause, I cannot wait for early childhood to really be preschool for all.

    1. I never realized the disparity and the lack of resources for the middle class until I myself had kids. It is the in-between that suffers more than most people in our country realize. I hope that I can make a difference for the cause as well.

  2. Amy,
    I often feel like you do when you think you have found a way to make a mark and then you realize it may just be one grain of rice in a bucket full of rice. DON’T GIVE UP!! It may not benefit others on a larger scale but the families and children you serve will benefit and that is what matters most. Unfortunately it appears through many readings that the United States just does not get it when it comes to early education. We have people identify budgets and creating policies that have no idea what is best for young children, what it looks like, or what is needed. Access for early education should be provided for all children no matter what income level, however, the importance of that has not been seen by many states.

    1. You are right about every little bit makes a difference. Even though it sounds pat it really is true and something I try to remember:
      "One hundred years from now, It will not matter what kind of car I drove, What kind of house I lived in, Or how much money I had in the bank, But the world may be a better place because I made a difference in a child's life."

      Our government has some room to grow and I also hope that we can learn from other countries what actually does work and why.