Free online personal development Classes
“The child who has gone to a preschool can study in primary school with more ease than a child who joins a primary school directly.” Unfortunately, “preschool fees range from 50, 000 to 150, 000 Shillings (US$ 20-60) per term of three months. Most parents cannot afford this, so many of them wait until their children are of age to start primary school.”
These quotes from Ugandan villages illustrate how parents value investments in young children, but often cannot afford them. The same is true for healthcare and nutrition. Early years are essential for children’s development. The reality is that investments in early childhood development (ECD) remain low in most countries, in part because of the complexity of the field. ECD policies and programs are managed by multiple public and private service providers, regulatory agencies, and ministries. It is of course not necessary for everyone to be experts on all matters related to ECD, but more awareness of the comprehensive nature of these investments would help in improving ECD programs and marshalling more resources towards them.
The good news is that resources are available to learn about ECD. These resources now include a new and free online self-spaced e-learning course designed by the World Bank. The course consists of three interactive web-based modules: Why invest in ECD?; What matters for ECD?; and How to implement ECD interventions? (For those interested in a more detailed explanation of each of the three modules, see here). Let me summarize the main features of the course.
First, consider the “Why invest in ECD?” question. From a scientific point of view, neurological studies show that synapses develop rapidly during a child’s first few years, forming the basis of cognitive and emotional functioning for life. Research suggests that investments in the first 1, 000 days of life are especially important. From an economic point of view, while the specific rate of return on investments in ECD depends on a number of factors, including the focus of a program, duration of exposure and quality, these rates of return have been shown to be as high as 17:1, according to Nobel Economist James Heckman. As just one example, a recent paper in Science suggests that growth-stunted toddlers in Jamaica who benefitted from psychosocial stimulation through weekly visits from community health workers over a two-year period increased future earnings by 25 percent.