Danielle Pereira

The right to education and care in early childhood remains an issue in Latin America and the Caribbean

January 8, 2019

This reality is verified in a study carried out by CLADE, OMEP and EDUCO, which presents a bird’s-eye view of the laws and policies in place for this educational stage in the region

CLADE invites all those interested to get to know the study “The Right to Education and Care in Early Childhood: Perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean”, an initiative of CLADE and OMEP – Regional Vice-Presidency for Latin America, with the support of the Education and Cooperation Foundation (EDUCO).

The research has as its starting point the vision of children as being subjects of law and the realization of rights enunciated within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as the promotion of a coordinated, integral and multisectorial approach to early childhood. Ratifying that education is a fundamental human right from birth, the study analyzes the meanings given to early childhood care and education (ECCE) in the political and legislative frameworks of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The study reveals that access to education since age 4 has improved on average between 2000 and 2012, although large inequalities in access to education persist between different social sectors and countries. The greatest differences are correlated with the economic income of families: while the poorest quintile shows a school registration rate of 71%, the highest quintile reaches 95% for girls and boys of 5 years. The gaps are sharpened when looking at access to education up to 3 years of age: the absence of the State in the educational offer for this age range increases inequalities and makes it more difficult to guarantee a quality education for all.

The research also shows that there is still a great dispersion, fragmentation and, sometimes, a contradiction between legislative frameworks and early childhood education and care policies in different countries, breaking the perspective of interrelation and interdependence of rights.

Based on these findings, the study presents some recommendations to States, including: that the principles expressed by the CRC and the General Comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child should inform more fully and coherently all legal, political, institutional and budgetary frameworks related to ECCE in the region; that the right to education of girls and boys under 3 years of age be fully and effectively guaranteed; that the evaluation of ECCE programs respect the characteristics of early childhood and the education objectives expressed by the CRC; and that the universal public systems of the ECCE be strengthened, overcoming inequalities and discrimination.

Likewise, a comprehensive approach to ECCE from birth to 8 years is advocated, emphasizing its inherent value beyond preparation for the next stages of education. In this sense, it is considered necessary to move away from the current trends of standardized evaluations focused on academic results, assuring girls and boys the right to play, culture, creativity and joy.

Based on the study, representatives of CLADE, OMEP and EDUCO participated on September 18th, last year, in a hearing at the Committee of the Rights of the Child of the UN, in Geneva, Switzerland. In this occasion, they defended the full realization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as the promotion of a coordinated, comprehensive and multisectoral approach to care and education in early childhood [read more].

Download the complete study here (in Spanish)
• Download the executive summary here: in English | in Spanish