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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

Increasing the efficiency of primary and secondary school investments

Early childhood development programs can increase the efficiency, reduce the cost and thus raise the return to primary and secondary school investment, by increasing access to primary education, lowering the repetition and drop-out rates and improving the quality of learning. ECD programs can facilitate increased primary school attendance directly by enabling older siblings to go to school. These children often have to drop out of school to act as care-givers for younger children if not for the provision of ECD programs. A study conducted in Brazil in 1980 (and the Kenyan data cited in Box 3) concluded that the number of younger siblings age 0-6 have a highly significant negative effect on the school attendance for children age 7-14 (Psacharopoulos and Arriagada 1989). ECD programs also raise awareness of the importance of education within the community and thus tend to further increase the primary enrollment level.

As mentioned previously, ECD programs can increase child quality and enhance learning readiness upon entry into primary school. When children have a higher active learning capacity upon entry into primary school, they can make better use of the school. Consequently, the efficiency of primary and secondary school will be increased. Empirical evidence from Myers (1992b) review of nineteen longitudinal evaluations examining the effect of early interventions in Latin America reveals that children who participated in early childhood programs experience lower repetition rates in primary school. The beneficial impact of early education is particularly pronounced among girls and children from rural, indigenous, and lower-level socioeconomic backgrounds. A two pronged approach to improve the environment in lower primary school is likely to be even more effective in improving primary school outcomes.