Improving young children's learning in economically developing countries - Scoping review

Published date: 01 February 2019
Last modified date: 03 June 2019

The past two decades have seen growing international recognition that children's learning does not begin at school. The learning opportunities that children experience in the early years of life lay important foundations for their learning at school, and the effects of quality early learning can persist beyond school into adulthood. This means that an increasing number of countries recognise the importance of investment in early learning and development, to provide quality early learning opportunities for all children.

Less is currently known about how to target this investment, to deliver the best possible outcomes for children and families. What is known about effective interventions to support children's learning in the years before school largely originates from developed countries. This means that developing countries - who have much to gain from the benefits of quality early learning - have an especially limited evidence base to guide investment in children's learning in the earliest years. By the time these children reach school, valuable opportunities to support their learning have often already been lost.

This scoping review examines the evidence base for interventions to support young children's learning in the years before school, with a focus on economically developing countries. While many of the insights from research into early interventions in developed countries are also applicable in developing country contexts, this study recognizes that such countries face particular challenges that require a different range of solutions. Hence, the purpose of this study is twofold:

First, it seeks to strengthen the evidence base for developing countries to draw on in their pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goal related to quality early learning.

Second, it is aimed at identifying areas where more and where less is known to inform where further primary studies are required to broaden the evidence base.