There is mounting evidence on the positive link between high quality early childhood development (ECD) personnel and the physical, social, and cognitive development of young children. Despite this growing body of knowledge, the early childhood workforce continues to face challenges such as inadequate training, low remuneration, and a lack of professional recognition. Moreover, a lack of documentation on promising approaches to address these workforce challenges limits opportunities to learn from the implementation experiences of different countries around the world.
To bring light to these challenges, and potential responses to them, the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI) has developed 6 country briefs which highlight efforts to support the workforce across different geographies and services.
These country briefs were informed by desk reviews and information collected through key informant interviews (KII) with country experts from implementing NGOs, multilaterals, and research institutions, as well as program managers and government officials across 15 countries. After identifying six promising country approaches to highlight, we conducted further desk research and interviews to inform the country briefs. These interviews were particularly helpful for clarifying the key enablers and barriers to implementation in each country as well as the policy lessons for other countries.
The compendium of country briefs spotlight the following promising practices:
Ecuador - Professionalizing the Workforce Supporting Infants and Toddlers from Birth to 3: Highlights the government of Ecuador’s approach to professionalizing childcare center and home visiting workers with pre- and in-service training that emphasizes theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
Georgia - Training Early Childhood Intervention Workers to Close a Workforce Gap: Examines the development and implementation of a pre-and in-service training program for the early childhood intervention (ECI) workforce and the creation of accreditation mechanisms for building the capacity of ECI services.
Ghana - Bridging Access with Quality: Explores the Fast Track Transformational Teaching (FTTT) Program’s approach to enhancing pre-and in-service training that improves kindergarten teachers’ practical skills and ability to implement the national play-based kindergarten curriculum.
Kenya - Empowering Community Health Volunteers to Integrate Nurturing Care: Examines Siaya County’s approach to integrating nurturing care into the work of Community Health Volunteers by providing them with ongoing support and better recognition.
Philippines - Combining Training with Job Security to Improve the Quality of the Childcare Workforce: Analyzes nationally supported training efforts to improve the knowledge and skills of personnel, as well as local efforts to address working conditions and job security.
Singapore - Developing Career Pathways for Early Childhood Care and Education Workers: Highlights the Government of Singapore’s efforts to support career advancement in the early childhood care and education profession by creating and investing in competency-based trainings, professional development frameworks, and career pathways.
These country briefs revealed a number of lessons about how policymakers and practitioners may strengthen the ECD workforce, including the following:
Standardizing competency requirements and pre-service training is an essential way of assessing prior knowledge and practical experience.Introducing a competency-based approach to training reduces the likelihood of staff members entering the profession without the requisite skills and creates opportunities for existing workers to evolve in their roles over time.
Complementing pre-and in-service training with monitoring and mentoring is an effective way to sustain workforce improvement efforts.Combining trainings with ongoing support helps bridge the gap between knowledge and skills and allows ECD workers to effectively and regularly apply the knowledge they have obtained into their roles.
Creating new entry points to the profession and flexible training pathways can allow workers with limited formal education and training to join the early childhood profession and gain the requisite skills.Recruiting non-traditional workers and providing existing members of the workforce with flexible training options (e.g distance learning) helps diversify the workforce and increase the skill sets of existing ECD personnel.
Sensitizing officials to the working conditions of the ECD workforce can lead to the development of policies that improve the status of these workers and increase the sustainability of these efforts.Providing officials with data on the composition of the workforce and exposure to the challenges they face can reinforce the importance of prioritizing funding and initiatives to support these personnel. Creating champions can help ensure that ECD is a priority in different contexts and enacting new ECD legislation at the local and national level can help ensure that efforts do not cease once new leaders are elected.
This process helped us better understand country priorities around the early childhood workforce and spotlight the approaches used to support this workforce in six diverse country contexts. We hope that the findings in each brief, as well as the cross-cutting lessons noted above, will be used to inform the experiences of other countries grappling with similar challenges, as well as contribute to the global early childhood knowledge base.