Starting Strong 2017

Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care

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Early childhood education and care (ECEC) can help lay the foundations for future skills development, well-being and learning. Having timely, reliable and comparable international information is essential to help countries improve their ECEC services and systems. For over 15 years, the OECD has been conducting policy analysis and gathering new data on ECEC. For the first time, this report brings together all the key ECEC indicators in one volume. It presents an exhaustive overview of ECEC systems and provision as well as trend data and information on recent reforms. The report takes a hard look at issues such as access and governance, equity, financing, curriculum, the teaching workforce and parent engagement. Key challenges for improving the ECEC sector are identified.

With around 45 charts and data for the 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries, the publication also includes a great deal of new material. It offers new data on ECEC provision and intensity of participation for children under the age of three (based on an improved typology of settings). It also presents new indicators on the profile of ECEC staff (e.g. level of qualification, teacher salary and organisation of working time) and on equity in access to ECEC. New PISA 2015 analyses help highlight the relationship between the number of years of ECEC and academic performance at age 15, and the effects of ECEC attendance on health and well-being, and mothers’ employability.

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Contextual factors influencing policies on early childhood education and care

Ageing populations, declining fertility rates and a greater proportion of children living in lone parent families have been part of the changing demographic landscape in recent decades. Societies are also becoming more ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse. At the same time, women’s labour force participation rates have increased substantially in most countries. Current demographic and labour market patterns are a further motivation for governments to take early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision seriously. Enrolment in ECEC settings has continued to rise over the last decade, partly because of the extension of the legal entitlement to a place in ECEC, and efforts to ensure free access, at least for some ages and selected population groups. This chapter is a general review of a range of socio-economic and other factors that may determine the need for ECEC, policy on ECEC, the kinds of ECEC provided and uptake of what is on offer. This chapter also includes a summary table with a full overview of the ECEC systems and provision across OECD countries.

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