Early Child Education: Making Programs Work for Brazil's Most Important Generation
In the past fifteen years, Brazil has made great strides in increasing its population's access to early child education, with both preschool and creche enrollment increasing by over fifty percent. Education programs for young children have consistently been shown to have long-term positive effects on life outcomes of participants. In Brazil, these programs have demonstrated positive impacts on, for example, income, length of schooling, and test scores. However, the quality of pre-schools and creches is essential in achieving these improvements, and even in capital cities, very few centers are rated as high-quality centers. Representation of the poorest and most vulnerable children among those attending pre-school and creche still lags considerably behind that of more privileged children, although poorer children stand to gain the most from early child education programs. Additionally, large rural-urban and regional disparities exist. This book details the literature on the effects of early child education and the importance of quality, and gives a comprehensive view of the quality, regional, and socioeconomic gaps in early child education in Brazil. It further examines existing public and private initiatives in Brazil, and discusses how they can be leveraged to effectively and efficiently provide quality pre-school and creche care. A central aim of the book is to provide policymakers with specific recommendations of policies to improve the quality and equity of the early child education experience in Brazil. Given the difficulty in reaching children in remote areas and the need to expand coverage to the poorest segments of the population, Brazil will need to be strategic in how and where it invests. It should target new centers and allocate existing spaces to the poorest people and areas. Municipal policymakers should allocate public spaces in a transparent manner, provide guidelines to institutions, and monitor them. Teachers need guidance on the best activities to use, to improve child outcomes. The use of participatory budgeting could potentially improve access and equity by involving the poor directly in the budgeting process. Increased cross-sectoral coordination could improve child welfare in cost-effective ways, and public-private partnerships could stretch existing resources further and expand coverage more quickly.
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