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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

Addressing the intersecting needs of women and children

In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 50 percent of women are working in wage-earning sectors. Actual labor force participation is certainly much higher if non-wage sectors are also included. Furthermore, the increasing survival of young children, the changes in family structure and child-rearing practices and urban-rural migration have increased the need and demand for new and better ways to care for and ensure the well-being of young children. Studies on women's labor force participation and child-care show that employed mothers are in greater need of, and more likely to send children to ECD programs (Lehrer 1983). Recent evidence from a Latin American country shows that when child-care is not available, mothers who wish to work will conceal the child's age and enroll under-age children in the first grade, exacerbating an already serious overcrowding problem for other children in this grade (Edwards, Gaston and Tunali 1995). Due to repetition and under-age and over-age school entries, for every 100 children expected in the first year of primary school in South Africa, actual enrollments are 150 for African children and 131 for colored. (National Education Policy Investigation: Early Childhood Educare Report 1992). The result is serious overcrowding for other children in this grade (Edwards and others 1995).

This is particularly relevant to Africa's vast expanding urban population, where many urban poor mothers cannot afford purchasing adequate child-care, and the absence of child-care prevents mothers from seeking more stable and higher-paying jobs. Provision of ECD services can increase women's productivity not only by freeing up their time to earn wages, but also by providing direct employment in child-care for qualified women. This is especially true for the adoption of homebased day care models.