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06 May 2024
15:00-16:30 CEST

Event Highlights: The Right to Pre-School Education

Wednesday 29 May 2024

3 to 4.30 pm CEST


The Right to Pre-School Education

On Wednesday, 29 May 2024, NORRAG hosted an online event on The Right to Pre-School Education. The event was opened by Moira V Faul, NORRAG’s Executive Director, who opened by pointing out the the gap between the early years education targets and the current evidence, underlining the relevance of this discussion.  

Lydia Mubiru, an Early Childhood Development Specialist and the Global Leader for Young Children in Uganda presented the intersection of technical solutions and high-level decision-making or government commission in Uganda. Lydia highlighted that children in Uganda are increasingly confronted with a lack of access to pre-primary education, particularly marginalized and vulnerable compared to other East African countries. She discussed how engagement with decision-makers led to government-led nationwide pre-primary education to ensure quality and reach rural areas. Her presentation showed that clear vision and strong mandates are needed to overcome challenges while training more teachers, providing subsidies to the private sector, and involving the community and other relevant actors are worthwhile approaches.  

Jan van Ravens, an Independent Policy Advisor, presented on global trends in preschool. He acknowledged the general decline in progress in the gross enrollment of preschools around the globe. He noted that while identifying reasons for these slowdowns remains a significant challenge, it suggests a common cause as it happened almost simultaneously worldwide. Adding to Lydia’s presentation, Jan stated that many children attend unofficial, unlicensed preschools without official registration, which is a trend seen in many other countries. He further argued that governments and parents invest more in preschools than official enrollment data suggests.

Janeli Kotze, Director of the Department of Basic Education, Early Childhood Department (ECD), shared a perspective on access to early childhood development in South Africa. She stressed that the early childhood education (ECE) system faces access and quality problems due to a lack of planning, resources, facilities, and a regulatory framework, which excludes vulnerable communities. Janeli insisted on the need for public-private partnerships to enhance ECD programs in South Africa, focusing on coordination and funding from donors and businesses to achieve universal access to quality Early Childhood Education.   

Luis Crouch, Senior Economist Emeritus, RTI International, discussed preschool entitlement, based on research done with Jan Van Ravens. Early childhood education is constantly assumed to be on a progressive ladder, though saddled with significant challenges in terms of regulatory implementation. Luis highlighted that the quality of ECE is uneven both between and within advanced and poor countries, hindered by a lack of standards, technical support, and fear of cost. Luis discussed the possibility of governments providing free or low-cost ECE for several hours per day. He also pointed out the importance of quality and continuity in the educational programmes and suggested that accreditation should focus on outcomes rather than legal requirements.  

Reflecting on the previous presentation, Christin McConnell, Chief of Education, UNICEF Ghana, discussed the importance of flexibility in achieving greater access to education, including benchmarks, partnerships and other packages. She also emphasized the need to prioritize marginalized groups and highlighted the importance of disaggregated data to understand access and quality in different education models.  

Delphine Dorsi, Director, Right to Education Initiative, discussed the importance of early childcare and education (ECC), highlighting the need to view education as a lifelong process. Delphine reaffirmed that ECE is a fundamental right requiring political commitment and regulation from the state to ensure access and quality. She highlighted the need for stronger international and national regulations in ECE and the importance of involving communities in monitoring and implementation.    

The Right to Pre-School Education event was closed by Moira Faul, who thanked the speakers,  the discussants and the participants for the questions shared during the event.  


  • Luis Crouch, Senior Economist Emeritus, RTI International
  • Delphine Dorsi, Director, Right to Education Initiative
  • Moira V. Faul, Executive Director, NORRAG – Moderator
  • Janeli Kotze Director, Department of Basic Education, ECD, South Africa
  • Christin McConnell, Chief of Education, UNICEF Ghana
  • Lydia Mubiru, Early Childhood Development Specialist, Uganda
  • Jan van Ravens, Independent Policy Advisor

Related blog:

[Part 1] The Preschool Entitlement, a Locally Adaptable Policy Instrument to Expand and Improve Preschool Education – Participation in preprimary education

[Part 2] The Preschool Entitlement, a Locally Adaptable Policy Instrument to Expand and Improve Preschool Education, by Jan van Ravens and Luis Crouch – Preschool education for all: how governments, communities, families and stakeholders can jointly make it happen

[Part 3] The Preschool Entitlement, a Locally Adaptable Policy Instrument to Expand and Improve Preschool Education – Implementing the Preschool Entitlement: coordination, phases and bottlenecks

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