A recently published OECD report Starting Strong 2017: Key Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) shows that even though the universal access to at least one year of ECEC has become a norm, many challenges regarding its funding, quality and affordability, teachers working conditions and curriculum design still prevail in the sector.

The report brought together for the first time all of the key OECD indicators in ECEC for the 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries, including new indicators on the profile of ECEC staff. It concluded that despite the increase in the level of qualifications required for teachers in ECEC (BA or equivalent), teachers’ salaries remain below the salaries of other tertiary-educated workers in most of the OECD countries (only 74% of the average salary).

It was also found that public funding is more decentralised in ECEC than at any other level of education and there is an urgent need for clear and consistent strategies for the efficient allocation of public resources in the ECEC sector. Moreover, the OECD pointed out the difficulties of ensuring equitable access to ECEC for all children, especially, for children under the age of three who are either excluded from ECEC or their education is under the authority of Ministry of Social Affairs, instead of the Ministry of Education.

ETUCE welcomes the report’s conclusions that ECEC is fundamental for children’s development and that its benefits are not limited to learning outcomes. As a human right and a public good, publicly funded education that is accessible for all, is crucial. ETUCE also reminds that ECEC teachers are of utmost importance for preparing children for life and they should be guaranteed quality continuous professional development, good working conditions, a rewarding salary, and optimum work-life balance.

Read more on ETUCE’s position on Early Childhood Education here.