Quality and Equitable Access Grounded in Local Knowledge: Bringing Pre-primary Education to Scale

Paul Oburu, New York University, Maseno University (Kenya), and Education Quality and Learning for All (EQUAL) Global Research Network
Hirokazu Yoshikawa, New York University and

Image of UNICEF Think Piece coverA great deal of evidence demonstrates the significant effects that quality pre-primary education can have on a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, growth, school readiness and future economic potential. However, only 42 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa participate in any organized pre-primary education before the typical enrollment age for grade one.

Such education is often only available to wealthier children, and is not of consistent quality, nor does it incorporate the local knowledge of learning processes that pre-school children should be exposed to before commencement of formal schooling. The authors of this UNICEF Think Piece on pre-primary education contend that the focus must go beyond access to include quality and equitable access in terms of focus, processes, stakeholder involvement, and integration of local knowledge into quality programming. It is a mistake to prioritize access alone: both quality and equitable access matter.

The authors explain why focusing on quality and equitable access is imperative in Eastern and Southern Africa and why it unfortunately does not happen, and explore the implication of the increased focus on access on the provision of quality pre-primary education.