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close this bookThe Condition of Young Children in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Convergence of Health, Nutrition, and Early Education (WB, 1996, 64 p.)
close this folder2. The status of children In sub-Saharan Africa
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentProgress in human development
View the documentPhysical needs: Survival, health, and nutrition
View the documentEducational profile
View the documentEarly interventions, school readiness and subsequent performance
View the documentThe challenge ahead
View the document3. What can early childhood development programs do?
View the documentImproving child quality
View the documentIncreasing the efficiency of primary and secondary school investments
View the documentEnhancing the economic contribution of the child to society
View the documentReducing social inequity
View the documentAddressing the intersecting needs of women and children
View the documentCreating synergistic effects of health, nutrition, and early stimulation

Enhancing the economic contribution of the child to society

Early childhood development programs improve children's physical and mental capacity. Over the long term, this can result in higher productivity and cost savings associated with better health and development. ECD programs affect enrollment, progress, and performance in schooling which is associated with effectiveness of education. By reducing repetition rates the external impact of classroom crowding is reduced, improving school quality. Besides improving the efficiency of educational systems, early childhood education also helps reduce costs in other social areas such as preventing deviant behavior and crimes, thus cutting the later need for social welfare programs and lowering spending on corrective measures. Empirical evidence of the economic return to early childhood education was established by the High Scope Perry Preschool study in the US, a program of early intervention for low-income children who were at risk of school failure. Between 1962 and 1967, 56 children, age 3-4 from Michigan, received 2 years of pre-school education (2.5 hours per day) coupled with weekly home visits. Information on participants, and a control group, was collected annually while the children were between years 3-1 1 and again at ages 14, 15, and 27.

One-third more of the high scope children graduated from regular or adult high school (71 percent vs. 54 percent). At age 27, four times as many program members as control ones earned $2,000 or more per month (29 percent vs. 7 percent). The proportion of non-participants arrested were five times greater than that of the participants (35 percent vs. 7 percent). A costbenefit analysis was conducted by estimating the monetary value of the program and its effects, in constant 1992 dollars discounted annually at 3 percent. Dividing the $88,433 in benefits per participant by the $12, 356 in cost per participant results in a benefit-cost ratio of 7.16 returned to the public for every dollar invested in the High/Scope Perry program (Schweinhart and others 1 993).