Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Early Childhood Care and Education (Ecce) in Ethiopia: Developments, Research, and Implications

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Early Childhood Care and Education (Ecce) in Ethiopia: Developments, Research, and Implications

Article excerpt


'Early Childhood Care and Education' (ECCE) is an umbrella term3 (UNESCO, 2002) used for all interventions, services, and support (Britto et al., 2012 in UNESCO, 2002) to children aged eight years and below (Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2005: 2), their parents, and caregivers. The concept generally designates a holistic, integrated, comprehensive, developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive, and child-centred approach (UNESCO, 2006) to policy formulation, activity programmeming and service provision addressing health, nutrition, education, and developmental needs of children, their parents and caregivers (MoH, MoWA, MoH, 2010a). Envisaged in this manner, it is believed to generally contribute to children's survival, development and learning in formal, organized and sustained centre-based settings like "daycare centres", "kindergarten", "schools", and "nursery schools" (UNESCO- IICBA, 2010) as well as informal and non-formal (home and community) settings.

Conceived with the goal of enabling all children (age's birth to 8 years) develop and learn to full potential through effective support, ECCE bears the specific objectives of ensuring that parents and guardians have the attitudes, skills and knowledge to support the development (including care, learning, and protection) of children, that children aged 4-6 years are participating in programmes promoting cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, that effective school and community support are in place to ensure successful transitions to primary school, and that collective actions take place at community, districts and national level to meet the development needs of 0- 8 years- old children (MoE, MoWA, & MoH, 2010a, b, c; PIE, 2013).

In fact, the goals envisaged, conceptions held, programmatic components embraced, organizational set ups structured, and approaches pursued in early years education have historically been changing from such extremely traditional and adult-centred views and practices (in which children were treated as miniature adults requiring less care and more education, training, and academic skills) to a more child-centred ones in which children where believed to be qualitatively different from adults requiring holistic services (rather than just education alone) through child-centred approaches like play. In more recent years, such holistic early years education programmes are characterized more specifically to encompass (1) education related to basic learning skills (like pre-reading, pre-writing, pre-counting, and prearithmetic), (2) basic life skills (such as hand washing, good eating habits), (3) health care services (like supplementary nutrition, immunization), (4) monitoring growth and development of children with the participation of health workers, teachers, parents/ care givers, and (5) protection services for children from various types of violations and abuses (Delaney, 2012; DEP, 2001; UNESCO, 2006, 2010; MoH, 2006).

In line with this historical progressions of early years education, this paper attempts to survey experiences in Ethiopia across historical time beginning from its conception till the present. Briefly tracing its historical roots, the paper discusses ECCE designs (policies, programmes and curricula), implementations (modalities, statistics, governance, stakeholders' involvement, and monitoring and evaluation), and impacts (quality, access, equity, and relevance) over the years. By doing so, the paper documents achievements so far and delineates strengths to maintain, gaps to overcome, opportunities to exploit and future directions to pursue in ECCE design, provisions as well as research. Above and beyond these functions, this synthesis research report also serves as a bibliographic record of existing ECCE local research in Ethiopia nearly for the last three to four decades.


Data sources: government documents, research reports, and secondary data were consulted for our present purpose. …

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