copy the linklink copied!5. Governance, funding and the quality of early childhood education and care

This chapter presents an overview of the funding and governance structure of early childhood education and care centres in countries participating in the Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS Starting Strong), using answers to the Survey and additional system-level data. TALIS Starting Strong explores centre leaders’ perceptions on effective management and sources of work-related stress. The chapter also looks into the relationship between centre governance and staff’s level of education, perceptions on spending priorities and support for professional development. It further examines the relationship between centre governance, funding and various dimensions of process quality, as well as how access to early childhood education and care for children with different socio-economic backgrounds relates to different centre governance and funding structures.

    

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

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Key messages
  • In countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, the majority of funding for early childhood education and care (ECEC) comes from the public sector (except in Japan and Turkey), and more than 90% of centres receive government funds. Parents are also involved in the funding of ECEC centres, with more than 60% of centres receiving funds from parents in all countries surveyed except Chile and Iceland.

  • Staff across countries and levels of education concur that reducing group size, improving staff salaries and receiving support for children with special needs are highly important spending priorities. Staff in centres with a smaller number of staff per child (the total number of staff working in a centre, regardless of their role, divided by the total number of children enrolled) are more likely to see the reduction of group size as a highly important spending priority. Opportunities for high-quality professional development also appears as a top-three priority for staff, particularly in centres for children under age 3. Country-specific spending priorities include a need for investments in toys, material, outdoor facilities and centre buildings in Turkey and reducing ECEC staff administrative burden in Japan and Korea.

  • The governance of ECEC centres is very diverse across countries and is sometimes split between different ministries or decentralised to regional and municipal administrative authorities. Most countries have developed minimum standards and monitoring practices to ensure a certain level of homogeneity in the provision of ECEC. However, monitoring efforts are uneven, despite widespread regulations. Monitoring activities tend to focus more on assessing the facilities and financial situation of centres than on process quality. Some leaders report that their centres are never evaluated on process quality, from less than 10% of leaders (in Israel for centres for children under age 3, Korea and Turkey) to more than 20% (in Germany, Japan and Norway in centres for children under age 3).

  • In the majority of countries surveyed, most centre leaders and/or members of staff play a key role in shaping the centre’s budget and human resources. They often report more involvement in these matters than other ECEC stakeholders, such as centre governing boards and higher administrative authorities. However, leaders often struggle to comply with regulations. Their main sources of stress are administrative workload and changing requirements from administrative authorities. Leaders also report that inadequate resources for the centre, staff absences and staff shortages are their main barriers to effectiveness.

  • The ECEC sector relies more on private management than higher levels of education. The share of privately managed centres varies from 10% in Israel to 70% in Germany. Most of these centres, however, do not report aiming to generate a profit. Privately managed centres benefit from more autonomy, which means more responsibility for centre leaders and/or members of staff and centre governing boards in shaping the centre budget and human resources policies than in publicly managed centres.

  • Staff and leaders in publicly and privately managed centres across countries do not show consistent variations in their levels of education. However, in several countries, including Chile and centres serving children under age 3 in Norway, staff in publicly managed centres report less diversified forms of support for professional development than those in privately managed centres.

  • Publicly managed centres are significantly more likely to be located in more rural areas than privately managed centres in almost all countries surveyed, underlining the role of the public sector in ensuring equal access to ECEC settings throughout the national territory.

  • The type of centre management (public or private) appears to be linked to some dimensions of process quality in four countries (Denmark [with low response rates], Germany, Iceland and Norway). Staff in publicly managed centres in these countries tend to make less use than staff in privately managed centres of practices facilitating children’s learning and development and engagement of parents/guardians.

  • In some countries, publicly managed pre-primary centres enrol larger percentages of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (Chile, Israel and Turkey) and children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre (Norway and Turkey) than privately managed centres. These findings point towards a concentration of children with similar characteristics in the same type of centres.

copy the linklink copied!Introduction

TALIS Starting Strong offers an international comparison of early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems. Centre leaders were asked to provide information about the funding, governance and ownership of ECEC centres, as well as their perceptions regarding issues in centre management and potential ways to address them. Centre staff provided information about themselves, such as their level of education and the support received for their professional development, which allows for comparison across centres relative to governance.

The goal of this chapter is to provide an overview of centre funding, governance and ownership in ECEC, both for pre-primary education (Chile, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Norway and Turkey) and for centres serving children under age 3 (Denmark, Germany, Israel and Norway). The chapter first explores the issue of funding and governance in ECEC centres and then looks at the organisation of ECEC systems across participating countries. It contains insights from both national regulations and respondents’ perceptions at the centre level. The chapter then discusses the relationship between centre governance and funding, as well as the relationship between governance and funding and the various dimensions of process quality. It ends by discussing the extent to which children who have different home environments, learning and development requirements are enrolled in centres with different governance and funding structures.

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Figure 5.1. TALIS Starting Strong framework for the analysis of aspects of governance and funding affecting children’s development
Figure 5.1. TALIS Starting Strong framework for the analysis of aspects of governance and funding affecting children’s development

copy the linklink copied!Insights from research and policy evidence

Aspects of governance and standards are among the most commonly used regulations for improving ECEC quality. Several studies have highlighted the decisive contribution of positive centre governance to process quality, while the structure and volume of ECEC funding are crucial in determining who can access early childhood education and under what conditions. Similarly, describing the regulatory environment of ECEC centres makes it possible to understand the division of responsibilities inside and outside ECEC settings, for instance regarding the definition of minimum standards.

Expenditure and sources of funding

In recent years, expenditure on ECEC has increased in line with studies highlighting its long-lasting benefits and a surge in attention from authorities (OECD, 2018[1]; OECD, 2018[2]). The high returns on investment for both individuals and society are demonstrated in longitudinal research in the United States (Heckman et al., 2010[3]; Campbell et al., 2008[4]). This body of studies makes a case for strong government investments as early as possible in children’s lives to give them access to such services. However, government expenditure needs to be measured not only against progress in the number of places in ECEC, but also in light of how it affects quality.

Since the ECEC sector also relies more on local authorities than any other level of education, public funding often originates from diverse sources. In OECD countries, central governments account for about 40% of total public funding for ECEC centres after transfers, while the rest is administered at regional and local levels, with large variations in their respective roles across countries (OECD, 2017[5]). In comparison, central governments account, on average, for 56% of spending in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels of education (OECD, 2018[2]).

The type of public funding can also lead to different forms of delivery of ECEC. In Scotland, for example, the use of tax credits to help lower-income parents finance pre-primary education favoured the development of private settings, while direct financing meant that settings for children under age 3 developed mainly in the public sector (Cohen et al., 2018[6]).

The sharing of funding between public and private sources matters, both for ensuring equal access for all children and for determining the responsibilities of providing and assessing quality in provision of early childhood education.

Governance and management

The governance of ECEC systems designates the way ECEC is managed within the country and the bodies in charge of regulating it. Countries differ in the organisation of their institutions governing ECEC. Some rely on integrated ECEC systems, meaning that pre-primary education and centres for children under age 3 work under the supervision of the same ministry, while others have split systems with these two levels of education governed by different authorities (OECD, 2017[5]). Specific country cases show that the way these institutions are organised can matter for quality of ECEC, as they may facilitate providing a continuum of high-quality services across age groups. For instance, the transition from a split system to an integrated system in England, Scotland and Sweden led to beneficial effects in Sweden but had little influence in the other two countries (Cohen et al., 2018[6]). In addition, pre-primary education and education and care for children under age 3 are regularly subject to different regulations within countries, whether the system is integrated or not, most notably regarding the conditions of access to ECEC centres or the number of hours of entitlement (OECD, 2018[2]).

Hence, several levels of governance are generally involved in the provision, operation and supervision of ECEC centres at both national and local levels. This makes it key to clearly and consistently allocate responsibilities at the system level. These governance structures often mean that centres have to comply with regulations from both national and local levels of government. However, collaboration with multiple stakeholders also allows for better tailoring of ECEC services to specific needs, for instance at the local level (Britto et al., 2014[7]; OECD, 2015[8]).

At the centre level, governance can be defined as management by the centre leader, including dimensions of administrative leadership (e.g. clear structure of governance, human resources and financial management). In South Africa, a study found quality of administrative leadership to be one of the main predictors of quality in ECEC, before factors such as child-staff ratio or staff qualifications (Biersteker et al., 2016[9]). Centre leaders may also influence the opportunities for professional development proposed to staff or encourage collegial decision-making, fair rewards and a supportive physical environment. In the United States, a study found that pedagogical and administrative leadership are significantly correlated with the level of quality attained in ECEC centres (Dennis and O’Connor, 2013[10]). These results make it crucial to understand the main determinants of positive leadership at the centre level. Leader training, for instance, is an important factor, as research highlights a link between a leader’s qualifications and quality of the work environment (Sylva et al., 2004[11]).

Ownership and profit status

Between countries, there is a strong variation in the share of public and private provision in the ECEC sector. While some countries rely mostly on state-run provision, others favour networks of private settings more or less strictly framed by state regulations (OECD, 2017[5]). In some countries, many privately managed settings are mostly publicly funded, while in other countries, privately managed settings rely mostly on fees from parents/guardians.

Evidence shows mixed results of the type of centre management on process quality. Public pre-primary centres seemed to score better on process quality than their private counterparts in countries such as China, Portugal and the United States (Coley et al., 2016[12]; Hu et al., 2016[13]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[14]). But this difference was not found in Spanish ECEC centres, where private schools subsidised by public funds scored lower than public centres on infrastructure, but better on dimensions of care for children’s needs (Sandstrom, 2012[15]). These gaps in quality scores between public and private settings can also be explained by divergent investment choices in the centres or different regulations applying to each type of setting, with public settings in China and the United States hiring more qualified staff (Coley et al., 2016[12]; Coley et al., 2016[12]).

Private centres, especially when they require fees from parents/guardians, may concentrate children from similar socio-economic backgrounds in the same settings. In the United States, a study of selection in ECEC centres found that children who are from minority and low socio-economic backgrounds and rural families were less likely to enrol in private settings (Coley et al., 2014[16]). Studies led in the Netherlands and the United States showed that children from disadvantaged backgrounds who attended preschool with a larger proportion of children from similar backgrounds displayed lower progress in language and literacy skills than similarly disadvantaged children in socio-economically mixed classrooms or playrooms (de Haan et al., 2013[17]; Schechter and Bye, 2007[18]). Some evidence demonstrates that lower observed levels of staff emotional support and classroom/playroom organisation could explain this association (Slot et al., 2017[19]).

Some ECEC centres may also aim to generate a profit. For-profit education settings raise controversial questions over their incentives and the quality of the service their offer. While proponents of for-profit ECEC argue that increased competition could foster quality in the field, critics underline that profits may not be invested in the improvement of the service, generating a deadweight loss (Boeskens, 2016[20]). In Canada and the United States, a study found that for-profit centres exhibited consistently lower quality due to differences in input choices (salaries, professional development, etc.), as compared to non-profit centres (Cleveland, 2008[21]; King et al., 2016[22]). However, these structural differences did not impact staff-child interactions in centres for children under age 3 in Portugal and the United States, contrary to what was found for children in pre-primary settings (Barros and Aguiar, 2010[23]; King et al., 2016[22]).

copy the linklink copied!Funding of the ECEC sector

TALIS Starting Strong 2018 provides information on ECEC funding systems from the perspective of centre leaders, including their views on spending priorities. In addition to this information, system-level data make it possible to determine the main features of ECEC systems, to better understand how countries finance early childhood education, for instance regarding the variety of stakeholders involved in funding ECEC provision and the importance of their respective contributions.

Public and private sources of funding for ECEC centres

Centre leaders’ responses to TALIS Starting Strong provide information on the share of centres that receive public funding. Results show that, in eight countries surveyed, nearly 90% or more of pre-primary education centres receive government funding (Figure 5.2). The exception at the pre-primary level is Turkey, with only 71% of centres declaring that they have received government funding over the previous 12 months. Centres for children under age 3 also appear widely supported by government funds in Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Norway. In Israel, where responsibilities for the ECEC system are split between two ministries, only 70% of centres for children under age 3 report receiving public funds, while pre-primary centres widely benefit from government funding.

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Figure 5.2. Sources of funding for ECEC centres
Percentage of ECEC centre leaders who responded that their centre received funding from the following sources over the past 12 months
Figure 5.2. Sources of funding for ECEC centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the share of centres that reported receiving government funding.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.1).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011572

Although the large majority of ECEC settings benefit from public funding in participating countries, there are important variations across countries regarding the reliance of centres on fees paid directly or indirectly by parents/guardians. At the lower end of the distribution, only one in five centre leaders in Chile report that their centre relies on parent/guardian fees. At the higher end, almost all centres in Norway rely on fees from parents/guardians, which are fixed at the same maximum limit across publicly- and privately-managed centres (see Box 5.2).

Only a limited share of leaders report that their centres receive funding from non-governmental organisations (including religious institutions and employers) in most participating countries, with the exceptions of Germany and Japan, where around a third or more of centres rely on this source of income. A small share of leaders report that their centres receive funding from benefactors, donations, bequests, sponsorships and parents/guardians fundraising (including subsidies through non-profit ECEC providers), across participating countries. In Germany and Turkey, this type of funding is more common.

While TALIS Starting Strong provides information on the source of funds received by ECEC centres, additional system-level data is necessary to grasp the size of the contribution of each contributor to ECEC funding. The OECD education database shows that more than 80% of total expenditures on pre-primary education are publically funded across OECD countries (Figure 5.3). The share of public funding in total expenditure in pre-primary education is similar to the OECD average in Chile, Germany, Iceland and Norway. This share is higher than the OECD average in Israel. In Denmark, Japan and Turkey the share of public expenditure is below the OECD average. In Japan, public funding represents half of total expenditures for pre-primary education.

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Figure 5.3. Distribution of public and private expenditure on ECEC settings in pre-primary education (2016)
Figure 5.3. Distribution of public and private expenditure on ECEC settings in pre-primary education (2016)

1. Including subsidies attributable to payments to educational institutions received from public sources.

Notes: For Chile, the year of reference is 2017. For Denmark, the year of reference is 2015.

Countries are ranked in descending order of the proportion of public expenditures on educational institutions in pre-primary education.

Source: OECD (2019[24]), OECD Online Education Database, http://www.oecd.org/education/database.htm.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011591

In addition to the sources of funding, TALIS Starting Strong asks centre leaders whether their centre is publicly or privately managed (Box 5.1). The Survey shows that in most countries, there is no simple link between the type of management (public or private) and the sources of funding (public or private).

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Box 5.1. Public and private centres in TALIS Starting Strong

A publicly-managed ECEC centre refers to an ECEC centre managed by a public education authority, government agency or municipality. A private setting is administered/owned directly or indirectly by a non-governmental organisation, private person or institution (e.g. church, synagogue or mosque, trade union, business). Private settings may be publicly subsidised or not.

Private publicly-subsidised settings operate completely privately but receive some or all of their funding from public authorities. If more than 50% of their core funding comes from government agencies, they can be considered government-dependent private ECEC settings.

Private non-publicly subsidised settings receive no funding from public authorities. They are financially independent and do not depend on national or local governments to finance their operations. Instead, they are funded by private sources, which can include tuition charges/enrolment fees, gifts and sponsoring.

Across participating countries, an important share of publicly managed centres report exclusively public funding (Figure 5.4 and Table D.5.1). This is the case for the majority of publicly managed centres in Chile, Denmark (with low response rates), Iceland and Korea, while ECEC centres in Germany, Israel, Norway and Turkey mostly benefit from at least one other source of revenue.

In the majority of countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, there are privately managed ECEC centres exclusively funded by the public sector. In Chile, for example, more than 40% of leaders in privately managed centres report this situation. On the other hand, this percentage is at or below 4% in Germany, Norway and Turkey for pre-primary education and in most countries where centres for children under age 3 were surveyed (with the exception of Denmark, with low response rates). In Israel, 19% of privately managed centres in pre-primary education are exclusively funded by government sources, but the proportion of pre-primary education centres that are privately managed is small. In Germany and Norway, almost all private centres receive funding from both government and private sources for both pre-primary education (ISCED 02) and settings for children under age 3.

Chile is the only country surveyed where almost no publicly managed ECEC centres receive fees from parents/guardians, in line with the fact that almost three-quarters of publicly managed centres rely on public funding only (Table D.5.2). In all the other countries surveyed, between 22% (in Iceland) and 95% (in Norway for centres for children under age 3) of publicly managed centres declare receiving fees from parents/guardians. This share is higher in privately managed centres for all countries surveyed, with the exception of Israel.

Countries’ expenditure on ECEC

In 2016, expenditures on pre-primary education (ISCED 02) amounted on average to 0.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in OECD countries, while expenditures on centres for children under age 3 (ISCED 01) represented 0.3% of GDP (Figure 5.5). Several countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong differ from this trend. For instance, Norway spends 2% of its GDP on both levels of ECEC, while Iceland spends 1.7% and Denmark 1.3%. On the other hand, Germany, Korea, Japan and Turkey are below the OECD average, although Japan and Korea only have data for pre-primary education.

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Figure 5.4. Exclusively government-funded centres in the public and private sectors
Percentage of ECEC centre leaders who reported that their centre is exclusively funded by the government in public and private ECEC centres
Figure 5.4. Exclusively government-funded centres in the public and private sectors

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the share of exclusively government funded centres that are publicly managed.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.2).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011610

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Figure 5.5. Expenditure on early childhood educational development (ISCED 01) and pre-primary education (ISCED 02)
Public and private institutions, as a percentage of GDP, 2016
Figure 5.5. Expenditure on early childhood educational development (ISCED 01) and pre-primary education (ISCED 02)

Notes: Data on early childhood educational development are missing for Korea and Japan. For Chile, the year of reference is 2017. For Denmark, the year of reference is 2014.

Countries are ranked in descending order of total expenditure on early childhood education and care (ISCED 0) as a percentage of GDP.

Source: OECD (2019[25]), Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, Table B2.4, https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en; OECD (2017[26]), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, Table C2.3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2017-en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011629

Investments in ECEC have been rather stable over the past few years among the countries surveyed, and almost all countries invest more per child in centres for children under age 3 than in pre-primary centres. From 2012 to 2016, the percentage of GDP invested in ECEC did not vary across OECD countries (0.6%). In participating countries, it has increased in Chile Israel, Korea, and Turkey. In Korea, investments in ECEC doubled over the span of four years. In other countries covered by the Survey, there were often no major changes in investments in ECEC as a percentage of GDP (Figure 5.6).

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Figure 5.6. Change in expenditure on pre-primary education (ISCED 02) as a percentage of GDP
All public and private institutions
Figure 5.6. Change in expenditure on pre-primary education (ISCED 02) as a percentage of GDP

Notes: For Denmark, the reference years are 2012 and 2014. For Korea, the reference years are 2011 and 2016. For Denmark and Turkey, data are for ISCED 0.

Countries are ranked in descending order of expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2016.

Source: OECD Online education database, http://www.oecd.org/education/database.htm.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011648

In terms of ECEC annual expenditure per child, several countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong invest more than the OECD average (Figure 5.7). This is the case of Germany, Iceland, and Norway, where investment per child in centres for children under age 3 is above the OECD average of USD 12 080, and investment per child in pre-primary education is above the OECD average of USD 8 349. Other countries, such as Chile and Israel, invest less per child in pre-primary education than the OECD average.

In terms of differences between levels of education, expenditure per child is higher in centres for children under age 3 than for children in pre-primary education (ISCED 02) in Chile, Germany, Iceland and Norway, which can be explained by the higher costs of ECEC provision for very young children. This is also the case for OECD countries as a whole, where countries spend on average 45% more per child in centres for children under age 3 than in centres for children in pre-primary education. The only exception among TALIS Starting Strong countries with available data is Israel, where spending per child under age 3 is about half of the amount invested for each child in pre-primary settings.

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Figure 5.7. Annual expenditure on early childhood educational institutions per child (2016)
In equivalent USD converted using purchasing power parities
Figure 5.7. Annual expenditure on early childhood educational institutions per child (2016)

Notes: Data on early childhood educational development are missing for Korea and Japan. For Chile, the year of reference is 2017. For Denmark, the year of reference is 2014.

Countries are ranked in descending order of annual expenditure per student by educational institutions for pre-primary education.

Sources: OECD (2019[25]), Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, Table B2.4, https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en; OECD (2017[26]), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, Table C2.3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2017-en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011667

Spending priorities in ECEC centres

TALIS Starting Strong asks staff to indicate their investment preferences if the budget of the ECEC sector as a whole were to increase by 5%. Staff across countries and levels of education converge on the fact that reducing group size, improving staff salaries and receiving support for children with special needs are highly important spending priorities. For staff in centres for children under age 3, benefitting from high-quality professional development also appears as a top-three priority (Table 5.1).

Table 5.1 shows the three spending priorities which the largest shares of staff indicate are “of high importance”. The reduction of group sizes appears as a clear priority, mentioned among the top three for pre-primary education settings in every country surveyed except Chile and Turkey. Reducing group sizes also appears as the top priority in centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Norway, and as the second priority in Israel. A regression analysis at the country level shows that staff working in centres where the number of staff per child is more favourable place less importance on reducing group size compared to staff in centres where the number of staff per child is less favourable. This is the case in Chile, Germany (for both levels of education), Iceland, Israel (for both levels of education) and Japan (Table D.5.3). This finding highlights the fact that staff reports on higher needs for the reduction of group sizes match with a reality corresponding to a less favourable number of staff per child at the centre level.

Staff salaries are also a topspending priority (appearing as a top-three priority in six countries at the pre-primary education level and in two countries for centres for children under age 3), as well as support for children with special needs (appearing as a top-three priority in six countries at the pre-primary education level and in three countries for centres for children under age 3). ECEC staff also report wishing to benefit from high-quality professional development, especially in centres for children under age 3, where three of the four countries surveyed reported this item among their top three spending priorities. Supporting children from disadvantaged or migrant backgrounds is not among the top priorities in any of the participating countries.

Some country-specific patterns also appear, for instance in Turkey, where the importance of investing in buildings, facilities and material resources for children is emphasised. In Japan and Korea, staff also mention as their second main priority the reduction of staff’s administrative load through the recruitment of more support staff, while this item is less of a priority in other countries.

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Table 5.1. Top three staff spending priorities
Priorities ranked by the percentage of staff who responded that the following items were “of high importance” if, thinking about the ECEC sector as a whole, the budget were to increase by 5%

Investing in toys, material, and outdoor facilities

Supporting children from disadvantaged or migrant backgrounds

Reducing group size by recruiting more ECEC staff

Improving ECEC buildings and facilities

Supporting children with special needs

Offering high quality professional development for ECEC staff

Improving ECEC staff salaries

Reducing ECEC staff's administrative load by recruiting more support staff

Pre-primary centres

Chile

1

2

3

Germany*

1

3

2

Iceland

3

2

1

Israel

1

3

2

Japan

3

1

2

Korea

3

1

2

Norway

1

2

3

Turkey

1

2

3

Denmark**

1

2

3

Centres for children under age 3

Germany*

1

3

2

Israel

2

3

1

Norway

1

2

3

Denmark**

1

2

3

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.4).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011857

Teachers and assistants agree on some spending priorities. Across all countries surveyed for which the assistant category can be reported (Chile, Denmark [with low response rates], Germany, Korea, Norway and pre-primary education centres in Israel), they are similarly likely to report the improvement of staff salaries and the reduction of group size as highly important spending priorities, and the reduction of administrative load also appears as a top priority for both staff categories in Korea (Table D.5.4).

copy the linklink copied!Governance of the ECEC sector

This section looks at how ECEC systems are governed, regulated and monitored across participating countries. TALIS Starting Strong asks centre leaders about the extent of their responsibilities in the setting, the frequency of the monitoring and evaluation they receive, as well as causes of work-related stress and barriers to effectiveness in their job. Additional system-level data makes it possible to draw a comprehensive picture of governance in ECEC settings at both national and centre levels. This overview of governance provides crucial contextual insights in understanding the important levels of governance for ECEC centres in each country, the impact of regulations and potential areas for improvement.

Organisation of national ECEC systems

The organisation of national ECEC systems is diverse across surveyed countries, primarily regarding the highest administrative authorities in charge in each of the countries surveyed and whether the system is split or integrated at the national level. In Chile, Denmark, Germany and Norway, ECEC settings are all organised under the governance of a single supervising ministry (an integrated system), which provides opportunities for continuity and synchronisation across services (Table 5.2). However, there are still noticeable differences between integrated systems. At the time of data collection and until July 2019 ECEC settings for Denmark were under the supervision of the Ministry for Children and Social Affairs. In Germany, the Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth manages ECEC, and the Ministry of Education is responsible for ECEC in Chile and Norway. Germany is also distinguished by the fact that, although it has an integrated system, the governance of ECEC settings is mainly managed by the federal states (Länder), which have autonomy in setting their own policies and curricula for early childhood settings (OECD, 2019[27]).

Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea and Turkey, however, rely on a split organisation for their ECEC systems. In countries with a split system, the governance of ECEC centres is often shared between the Ministry of Social Affairs for younger children and the Ministry of Education for children aged 3-5. This is the case in both Israel and Turkey. Japan represents a specific case, with three authorities sharing the governance of ECEC settings and overlaps in age groups between different types of settings. While kindergarten for children age 3-5 is operated by the Ministry of Education, children age 0-5 may also enrol in day-care centres run by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare or in integrated centres for early childhood education and care supervised by the Cabinet Office.

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Table 5.2. Highest administrative authorities in charge of ECEC settings

Country

Name of the ECEC setting

Age range covered

Name of the highest authority in charge

Integrated or split ECEC system

Chile

All ECEC settings

0-6

Ministry of Education

Integrated

Denmark

All ECEC settings

0-5

Ministry for Children and Education

Integrated, mainly decentralised

Germany

All ECEC settings

0-6

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Integrated, mainly decentralised

Iceland

Preschool

0-6

Ministry of Education, Science and Culture

Integrated

Israel

All settings for children aged 3 to 5

3-5

Ministry of Education

Split

All centres for children under the age of three

0-2

Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Affairs

Japan

Kindergarten

3-5

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Split

Day-care centre

0-5

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Integrated centre for early childhood education and care

0-5

Cabinet Office

Korea

Kindergarten

3-5

Ministry of Education

Split

Childcare centres

0-5

Ministry of Health and Welfare

Norway

All ECEC settings

0-5

Ministry of Education and Research

Integrated

Turkey

Independent kindergarten

Practice classroom

Special education preschool

3-5

Ministry of National Education

Split

Nursery classroom

4-5

Early childhood care and education

Special early childhood education

Crèche, day-care centre

0-4

Ministry of Social Affairs

Source: OECD (2019[27]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations survey”, internal document, OECD, Paris.

Legal minimum standards and monitoring policies

Given the high level of autonomy devolved to local authorities and centres in some countries, the definition of monitoring practices and minimum standards represents an efficient way of ensuring a certain level of homogeneity in the provision of early childhood services. For this reason, several countries have developed minimum requirements for ECEC centres, for example, regarding the number of square metres that each child should benefit from, and monitoring practices, such as regular inspections.

Answers to an OECD questionnaire for national or sub-national authorities in charge of ECEC show that the majority of countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong have implemented minimum standards on at least some dimensions of structural quality in ECEC (Table 5.3 and Annex A). The most common legal requirements concern child-staff ratios (regulated in all countries surveyed except Iceland), the level of staff qualifications and the available space that children should have indoors and sometimes outdoors. However, legal requirements differ widely across countries. On ratios for instance, the Norwegian legislation (as of 2018) requires the presence of at least one staff member for every six children between 3 and 5 years old. In addition there is a child-teacher ratio requiring a qualified ECEC teacher for every 14 children between 3 and 5 years old. The Japanese law, however, sets a minimum of one teacher for every 30 children between 4 and 5 years old for day care centres, while in Israel, one teacher and one assistant can have a classroom or playroom of up to 35 children. Requirements for minimum available space for children also differ widely, ranging from no requirements in Iceland to 2.4 m2 in Turkey and a guiding norm of 4.0 m2 for children between 3 and 5 years old in Norway. These differences show that, although minimum standards are a good way of regulating centres, they may be more or less demanding.

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Table 5.3. Regulations and standards for early childhood settings

Country

Age range

Name of ECEC settings

Regulations on staff-child ratio and group size

Regulations on minimum space available per children

Regulations on workforce composition

Regulations on children’s group composition

Denmark

0-5

Kindergarten,

Nursery,

Home-based day care,

Integrated day care

In home-based centres only: up to 5 children per staff member, 10 if the day care only has 1 staff member

Yes

No

Rules to ensure that children from vulnerable areas are well distributed and can attend a Danish-speaking centre with a positive environment, focused on child well-being, development, learning, education and development.

Germany

0-6

All ECEC settings

Differs across Länder

Differs across Länder

Differs across Länder

Differs across Länder

Iceland

1-5

Preschool (centre-based settings)

No

No

At least 1 preschool leader with teacher education, preschool teachers and staff for children with special needs. At least two-thirds of staff should have the preschool teacher qualification.

No

Israel

0-3

Day care centre

3-15 months: up to 6 children with one staff member. For children aged 2, 1 staff member for every 9 children. For children aged 3, one staff member for 11 children.

Yes

1 leader is required as well as 1 cook, carers according to required ratios as well as assistants for children who have special needs.

No

0-3

Family day care

4 months – 3 years: maximum of 5 children per carer.

Yes

1 coordinator to manage up to 28 families and 1 carer for up to 5 children.

No

3-5

Public kindergarten

Age 3-5: up to 35 children with 1 kindergarten teacher and assistant. For children aged 3, one additional assistant if there are more than 30 children in the group.

95 m2. for kindergarten of up to 35 children

At least 1 qualified kindergarten teacher and 1 assistant per group of 35 children

No

3-5

Private kindergarten

No

No

No

No

Japan

3-5

Kindergarten

Less than 35 children per group

At least 400 m2 for a centre of three classes, and 80 m2 of increase per class

At least 1 leader in the centre and 1 teacher per class

No

0-5

Day care centre

Age 0: 1 day care centre teacher per 3 children

Age 1-2: 1 teacher per 6 children

Age 3: 1 teacher per 20 children

Age 4-5: 1 teacher per 30 children

Age 0-2: 1.65 m2 per child who cannot crawl, 3.3 m2. per child who can crawl

Age 3-5: 1.98 m2 indoor space and 3.3 m2 outdoor playing space per child

Day care centre teacher

No

0-5

Centre for ECEC

Less than 35 children

Age 0: 1 day care centre teacher per 3 children

Age 1-2: 1 teacher per 6 children

Age 3: 1 teacher per 20 children

Age 4-5: 1 teacher per 30 children

Age 0-2: 1.65 m2 per child who cannot crawl, 3.3 m2 per child who can crawl

Age 2: 3.3 m2 outdoor playing space per child

Age 3-5: The larger standard between kindergarten standard (400 m2, increase of 80 m2 per class) and day-care standard (3.3 m2 per child)

At least 1 leader in the centre and 1 teacher per class

No

Norway

0-5

Kindergarten,

Family kindergarten

Age 0-2: 1 staff member per 3 children

Age 3-5: 1 staff member per 6 children

Age 0-2: 5.3 m2 indoors per child

Age 3-5: 4.0 m2 indoors per child

Outdoor space should be 6 times bigger than indoor space

For kindergarten settings:

Age 0-2: At least 1 qualified pedagogical leader/teacher per 7 children

Age 3-5: At least 1 qualified pedagogical leader/teacher per 14 children

No

Turkey

3-5

Independent kindergarten,

Practice classroom,

Special education preschool

1 teacher per 20 children

Public schools: 2.4 m2 indoor space per child

Private schools: 1.5 m2 indoor space per child, 1.5 m2 outdoor space, 15 m2 per classroom

School principals, vice-principals, school counsellor and teachers should have at least a Bachelor's degree. Preschool teachers working in public institutions should complete preschool education programme which lasts for 4 years and is given in universities. In addition to preschool teachers, private preschool institutions may employ master trainers who complete child development programmes in vocational high schools and have an experience of internship which lasts for one year.

No

4-5

Nursery classroom,

Source: OECD (2019[27]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations survey”, internal document, OECD, Paris.

Although the majority of participating countries also have regulations on the qualifications that staff in ECEC centres should have, most TALIS Starting Strong countries do not have regulations in place on classroom or playroom composition. In Denmark, however, a recent legislative amendment aims to ensure that all children from vulnerable residential areas enter ECEC settings in which the Danish language is spoken. Such regulation does not exist in the other countries surveyed, although several countries have implemented policies aiming at allowing children from vulnerable backgrounds to access ECEC. This is the case in Norway for instance, where centre fees for parents cannot exceed 6% of the family income, as a way to ensure that ECEC is accessible and affordable to families from all socio-economic backgrounds. There are also national regulations in Norway on free core time of 20 hours per week for families with income below a certain threshold. In Germany, several federal states (Länder) have implemented similar policies aiming at reducing or suppressing parental fees altogether to ensure more equitable access to ECEC settings (OECD, 2019[27]).

Based on the responses of centre leaders to the TALIS Starting Strong questionnaire, process aspects of quality (interaction with children, content of activities) appears unevenly monitored across countries (Table D.5.5). When asked about the external evaluations they receive, about 90% or more of centre leaders in Chile, Korea and Turkey (at pre-primary level) and Denmark (with low response rates) and Israel (both at pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3) report that they have inspections on process quality. In Germany at both levels of education, Japan and Norway (in centres for children under age 3), more than 20% of leaders report that they never have such inspections. When inspections on process quality take place, they generally occur at least once a year. A majority of centre leaders report that they have inspections on process quality at least once a year in Chile, Denmark (with low response rates), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea and Turkey. In Norway, a large share of leaders report that these inspections occur less than once a year. Evaluation modalities may vary a lot across countries, for instance when it comes to the duration of the evaluation period or the training of staff dedicated to assessing process quality in the ECEC centre, which is not reflected in the Survey.

Structural features of quality (child-staff ratio, qualification levels of staff) also appear to be unevenly monitored across countries. More than 20% of leaders report that they never have these inspections in Germany (centres for children under age 3), Israel (pre-primary centres) and Japan, while more than 90% of centre leaders report having these inspections in Denmark (at both levels of ECEC, with low response rates), Israel (centres for children under age 3), Korea and Norway (at both levels of ECEC).

In other domains for monitoring, there is less variation across countries. Only a few centre leaders across countries report that they never have inspections to ensure that facilities meet the appropriate requirements (e.g. regarding the space and equipment available and health and safety standards). The same applies to audits on the financial management of centres, with the exception of Chile and pre-primary centres in Israel, where more than a quarter of leaders report that they never experience these audits. These numbers show that although structures exist to assess ECEC centres, these monitoring efforts aim to assess financial and material aspects of the centre more frequently than process quality and other aspects of structural quality (Table D.5.5).

Centre autonomy and leader/staff responsibilities

Centre leaders and/or members of staff across countries can be in the position of making key decisions at the centre level. Across all countries surveyed at the pre-primary level, more than six out of ten leaders report that they and/or other members of staff have significant responsibility in appointing or hiring ECEC staff in their centre, meaning that they play an active role in decision-making (Figure 5.8). Similarly, half of the leaders across countries report that they and/or other members of staff have a significant role in deciding on budget allocations within the ECEC centre, and in dismissing or suspending staff from employment. For these three managerial tasks, pre-primary centre leaders and/or other members of staff across countries report that they play a more active role in decision-making than the ECEC centre governing board or higher administrative authorities. This highlights the key role of centre leaders and/or members of staff have in shaping centre human resources and spending and underlines a certain level of centre autonomy for some key managerial tasks. The exception concerns the establishment of staff salaries, as less than 20% of all pre-primary centre leaders report that they and/or other members of staff play an active role in this matter, and more than 60% designate higher administrative authorities as the main decision-maker.

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Figure 5.8. Responsibilities of centre leaders, governing boards and administrative authorities
Percentage of pre-primary centre leaders across countries who reported that the following stakeholders have significant responsibility for the following tasks
Figure 5.8. Responsibilities of centre leaders, governing boards and administrative authorities

Note: Tasks are ranked in descending order of the percentage of leaders who report that they and/or other members of staff have significant responsibility.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.6).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011686

This broad picture hides a diversity of situations regarding the autonomy of pre-primary ECEC centres across countries. In Iceland, for example, almost all ECEC leaders and/or members of staff have a significant role in hiring and suspending staff in their centre, while the role of the governing board and other administrative authorities is marginal in this regard (Table D.5.6). In pre-primary settings in Israel and Turkey, however, leaders do not report that they and/or other members of staff play an important role in the hiring or suspension of staff or in establishing staff salaries. For these two countries, higher administrative units are the main actor for the definition of human resources policies and staff salaries in pre-primary centres. However, two-thirds of centre leaders in pre-primary settings in Israel and a quarter of leaders in Turkey report that they and/or other members of staff have significant responsibility for deciding on budget allocations within the ECEC centre. Extensive reliance on higher administrative authorities can be found to some extent in Chile and Iceland, where more than half of centre leaders report that state authorities play a significant part in deciding on budget allocations within ECEC centres.

Centres for children under age 3 display a comparable level of centre autonomy as pre-primary centres in Denmark, Germany and Norway. In Israel, however, leaders in centres for children under age 3 report that they and/or other members of staff have more responsibilities in managing human resources in the ECEC centre, compared to pre-primary centres. This higher autonomy of centre leaders and/or other members of staff is, however, limited to human resources responsibilities, as leaders and/or members of staff across levels of education display a comparable level of responsibility in deciding on budget allocations within the centre.

In contrast, central importance is given to governing boards in both pre-primary settings and centres for children under age 3 in Germany. At both levels of education, at least 90% of centre leaders report that governing boards have a significant role in dismissing or suspending staff, 76% say that they make active decisions in the appointment or hiring of ECEC staff, and more than 60% declare that governing boards also have a significant say on the establishment of staff salaries and budget allocations within the centre. This widespread reliance on governing boards can also be observed to a lesser extent in centres for children under age 3 in Israel.

Barriers to effective leadership and leader stress

TALIS Starting Strong asks centre leaders about the main barriers to their effectiveness, meaning limitations that may keep leaders from achieving desired outcomes. Centre leaders in several countries highlight the fact that inadequate budget and resources, government regulations and policies, as well as staff absences and shortages are important barriers to their effectiveness (Table 5.4). In all countries except for Germany (for both pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3) leaders consider inadequate centre budget and resources among the top three barriers to their effectiveness. In all countries except for Chile and Turkey (and Israel where these items were included in the questionnaire), staff absences, staff shortages or both are among the top three barriers to their effectiveness that leaders report. Government regulations and policies are among the top three barriers to effectiveness mentioned by leaders in pre-primary settings in Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Israel and Korea and in centres for children under age 3 in Germany and Norway.

In pre-primary centres in Chile, Israel and Turkey, leaders consider a lack of parent/guardian involvement and support to be strong barriers to their effectiveness. Furthermore, in Chile and Turkey, leaders rank a lack of opportunities and support for professional development for ECEC staff as a strong barrier to their effectiveness. However, in none of the countries surveyed did leaders report lack of opportunities for their own professional development as being a top source of concern, consistent with their high levels of participation in ongoing professional development (see Chapter 3).

Too much administrative work (e.g. filling out forms) and keeping up with changing requirements from authorities are overall the most important sources of work-related stress for leaders (see Chapter 3). Examining leader rankings of their sources of work-related stress within countries confirms this overall pattern and underscores that staff absences are also a major source of leaders’ work-related stress (Table 5.5). Some differences are evident with regard to the top three sources of work-related stress for leaders. These findings raise questions about whether centre leaders at both levels of ECEC have too much procedural work to complete and/or whether they are sufficiently trained for this dimension of their job. The concern that centre leaders express about changing requirements from administrative authorities also suggests that the process for deciding and implementing new regulations could be improved. Within countries, additional sources of work-related stress for leaders vary to some extent. For example, managing ECEC staff is the top source of work-related stress for leaders in Iceland, but not among the top three sources of work-related stress in any other country. Stress related to addressing parent/guardian concerns is ranked high among leaders in Korea and Turkey, and being held responsible for children’s development, well-being and learning is a predominant source of stress for leaders in Israel, both in centres for children under age 3 and pre-primary settings.

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Table 5.4. Top three barriers to leaders’ effectiveness
Barriers to effectiveness ranked according to the percentage of leaders who declared that the following limit their effectiveness “quite a bit” or “a lot”

Inadequate ECEC centre budget and resources

Government regulation and policy

ECEC staff absences

ECEC staff shortages

Lack of parent or guardian involvement and support

Lack of opportunities and support for my own professional development

Lack of opportunities and support for ECEC staff's professional development

Pre-primary centres 

Chile

3

1

2

Germany*

3

1

2

Iceland

3

1

2

Israel1

1

2

3

Japan

2

3

1

Korea

3

1

2

Norway

2

1

3

Turkey

1

2

3

Denmark**

1

3

2

Centres for children under age 3

Germany*

3

1

2

Israel

3

2

1

Norway

2

3

1

Denmark**

1

3

2

1. In pre-primary settings in Israel, leaders were not asked about staff absences, staff shortages or a lack of opportunities and support for ECEC staff's professional development as barriers to their effectiveness.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the Survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011876

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Table 5.5. Top three sources of stress for ECEC centre leaders
Main sources of stress for ECEC centres leaders ranked according to the percentage of leaders who declared that the following issues cause them “quite a bit” or “a lot” of stress

Having too much administrative work to do

Having extra duties due to absent ECEC staff

Being held responsible for children's development, well-being and learning

Keeping up with changing requirements from authorities

Managing ECEC staff

Addressing parent or guardian concerns

Accommodating children with special needs

Lack of support from local authorities or government

Lack of resources

Lack of ECEC staff to carry out work

Pre-primary centres

Chile

1

2

3

Germany*

1

2

3

Iceland

2

1

3

Israel1

1

2

3

Japan

1

2

3

Korea

1

3

2

Norway

2

1

3

Turkey

3

2

1

Denmark**

1

3

2

Centres for children under age 3

Germany*

1

2

3

Israel

2

3

1

Norway

2

1

3

Denmark**

1

2

3

1. In pre-primary settings in Israel, leaders were not asked about a lack of ECEC staff to carry out work as a source of stress.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the Survey may result in biases in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011895

Public and private management of ECEC centres

The countries surveyed rely on different forms of centre management. At the pre-primary level, Iceland, Israel and Turkey have the highest share of publicly managed centres (more than 80%) (Figure 5.9). Data suggest that Denmark (with low response rates) displays a similar pattern. In contrast, the private sector manages the majority of ECEC centres in Germany, Japan and Korea. Chile and Norway do not have a clearly predominant form of centre management. Overall, data from countries surveyed suggest that privately managed centres are more common in ECEC than in other levels of education (OECD, 2014[28]).

Among the countries that surveyed centres for children under age 3, only Israel has different shares of public and private management compared to the pre-primary level, reflecting its system of split governance. While the public sector largely manages pre-primary education in Israel, almost half of the centres for children under age 3 are privately managed.

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Figure 5.9. Share of publicly and privately managed centres in ECEC
Percentage of centre leaders who answered that their centre was publicly or privately managed
Figure 5.9. Share of publicly and privately managed centres in ECEC

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: A publicly managed centre is a centre whose leader reported that it is managed by a public education authority, government agency or municipality. A privately managed centre is a centre whose leader reported that it is managed by a non-governmental institution (e.g. a church, synagogue or mosque, a trade union, a business, or any other private institution or person). Privately managed centres may be publicly subsidised or not.

Countries are ranked in the ascending order of the percentage of public centres in the country.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.7).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011705

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Box 5.2. Approaches to public and private provision

In Norway, two types of settings are in place in ECEC: kindergartens (barnehage) and family child care (familiebarnehage), which can be managed publicly or privately. Of children enrolled in ECEC, more than 98% attend kindergartens and less than 2% are in family child care. Kindergartens in Norway are integrated pedagogical settings providing ECEC for children aged 0-5. Both publicly and privately managed ECEC settings in Norway are funded mostly by public sources. Of the total expenditure on ECEC in Norway, 15% comes from private sources, including fees paid by parents/guardians.

Both national and municipal governments in Norway have made efforts to expand access and support equality of participation, particularly for low-income and minority-language families through fee reductions and legal entitlements, as part of the kindergarten reform 2004-09. This was achieved through increased public funding, which reduced the parental contribution to operating costs.

Nationally, there is a maximum price (for all children) at NOK 3 040 (EUR 304) monthly (adjusted in August 2019). To better target low-income families, a regulation was introduced in 2015 stating that the maximum annual fee shall not exceed 6% of the family income. If the fee exceeds 6% of household income, the excess amount is covered by the state rather than by municipalities (as used to be the case). The national regulations also stipulate moderation of fees for siblings and reductions of 30% of the annual fee for the second child and 50% for the third child. Municipalities are responsible for ensuring that these regulations are applied by all kindergartens (both public and private) and for compensating private providers for the reduced fees. Although participation among minority-language children continues to be lower than for all children, the gap is closing. In 2018, according to national authorities, 83% of minority-language children aged 1-5 attended ECEC, an increase of 2.5 percentage points compared to 2017. For all children, the participation rate was 92% (Statistics Norway, 2018[29]).

In Germany, four types of ECEC settings are in place: ECEC centres for all age groups (0-6), ECEC centres for children under age 3, ECEC centres for children 3 to 6 and family day care (0-6). Additionally, there is a fifth type of setting in some states: pre-primary classes, covering a very small proportion of children around primary school entry age (typically around age 6). All types of settings in Germany can be managed publicly or privately (OECD, 2019[27]). TALIS Starting Strong shows that the private sector manages the majority of ECEC centres. However, almost the totality of ECEC centres are non-profit. Both publicly and privately managed centres are mostly funded by public sources.

Of the total expenditure on ECEC in Germany, 19% comes from private sources (OECD, 2019[25]) . Encouraging private actors and community engagement to support ECEC centres is increasingly seen as an important policy lever and a potential source of additional resources. In Germany, more than 9% of all private funding comes from private entities other than households (OECD, 2017[5]). Private non-profit providers and foundations are important contributors to private expenditure on ECEC in Germany. For example, the Haus der kleinen Forscher (Little Scientists’ House) foundation promotes nationwide early childhood education in natural sciences and technology. The foundation develops workshops and teaching materials for educators, hosts annual promotion days and provides comprehensive background information and experiments on the internet (OECD, 2017[5]).

Note: This material was supplemented by additional inputs sent by the national authorities in Germany and Iceland, respectively.

Sources: Statistics Norway (2018[29]), Minoritetsspråklige barn i barnehage 1-5 år (K) 2015 - 2018, https://www.ssb.no/statbank/table/12272/; OECD (2019[27]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations survey”, internal document, OECD, Paris; OECD (2019[25]), Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en; OECD (2017[5]), Starting Strong 2017: Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264276116-en.

ECEC centres are mostly non-profit settings. Across countries where leaders were asked about the profit status of their centres (the question was not part of the survey in Chile, Denmark, Israel and Turkey), the large majority of centres indicate that they do not aim to generate a profit. However, in Norway for-profit centres represent 16% of centres surveyed at the pre-primary level and 11% among centres for children under age 3. These percentages are higher than in all other countries (Table D.5.7).

copy the linklink copied!Characteristics of publicly and privately managed ECEC centres

This section discusses the various types of differences between publicly and privately managed centres, such as differences in centre autonomy, staff education level and access to training, and centre location. Some of these aspects are closely linked to process quality (OECD, 2018[1]). The literature points out that gaps in process quality between public and private settings are often due to different choices in investment and human resources management across these centres (Coley et al., 2016[12]; Hu et al., 2016[13]). However, research also shows that these differences are country-specific and do not represent a global trend.

Table 5.6 summarises this section by presenting a comparison of characteristics of publicly managed settings compared to privately managed settings. It shows, for instance, that publicly managed centres tend to be significantly more likely to be located in rural areas than privately managed centres.

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Table 5.6. Summary of findings on differences between public and private ECEC centres
Statistically significant differences in characteristics of publicly managed centres compared to privately managed settings

More leader/staff autonomy in recruitment policies

More leader/staff autonomy in budget planning

Higher staff educational attainment

Higher leader educational attainment

Higher number of staff per child

Higher staff participation in professional development

Higher support for staff professional development

Location in more rural areas

Higher percentage of children whose first language is different from that of the centre

Higher percentage of children from disadvantaged backgrounds

Pre-primary centres

Chile

Private

Private

Private

Public

Public

Germany*

Private

Public

Iceland

Private

Israel

Private

Public

Public

Public

Private

Public

Japan

Private

Private

Private

Public

Korea

Private

Private

Public

Public

Private

Norway

Private

Private

Public

Public

Turkey

Private

Private

Public

Public

Public

Denmark**

Public

Public

Centres for children under age 3

Germany*

Public

Private

Israel

Norway

Private

Public

Denmark**

Private

Public

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the Survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: “Public” means that publicly managed centres are significantly more likely to possess a certain characteristic than privately managed settings (e.g. staff in publicly managed centres in Korea have, on average, a higher level of educational attainment than staff in privately managed centres). “Private” means that privately managed centres are significantly less likely to have a certain characteristic than publicly managed centres (e.g. centre leaders in privately managed centres in Chile have, on average, more autonomy in leading recruitment policies). Blank cells indicate that no statistically significant difference was found for this characteristic.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011914

Leader responsibilities and centre autonomy

The main difference between publicly and privately managed ECEC centres lies in the extent of the centres’ autonomy. Unsurprisingly, leaders in privately managed pre-primary centres across countries are more likely to report that they and/or other members of staff have a significant role in key managerial tasks in the centre (Figure 5.10). Most notably, leaders and/or other members of staff in privately managed pre-primary centres have wider responsibilities in shaping the ECEC centre’s human resources. Three-quarters of leaders of privately managed centres report that they and/or other members of staff play a decisive role in appointing or hiring ECEC staff, while less than half of leaders in publicly managed centres see their responsibility and/or the responsibility of other staff members as significant in this regard. Similar differences appear regarding dismissing or suspending ECEC staff from employment and establishing staff salaries. Although the difference is less striking than for other managerial tasks, leaders in privately managed pre-primary centres are also significantly more likely to report that they and/or other members of staff have an important impact on budget allocation decisions within the ECEC centre (59%) than their counterparts in publicly managed centres (45%).

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Figure 5.10. Responsibilities of leaders and/or other staff in publicly and privately managed pre-primary centres
Average percentage of centre leaders in pre-primary centres who report that they and/or other members of staff have a significant responsibility for the following tasks
Figure 5.10. Responsibilities of leaders and/or other staff in publicly and privately managed pre-primary centres

Note: Countries are ranked by descending order of the percentage of leaders in publicly managed centres who report that they and/or other members of staff have a significant responsibility in these tasks.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.8).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011724

These greater responsibilities of leaders and/or other members of staff point to the broader autonomy of privately managed centres compared to publicly managed settings, especially in pre-primary centres. In almost all the countries surveyed, this is also complemented by a greater involvement of centre governing boards and lesser involvement of state authorities in the governance of privately managed centres compared to publicly managed settings (Table D.5.8). The wider autonomy of privately managed centres compared to publicly managed centres could therefore lead to different approaches regarding recruitment or other aspects of centre governance.

Staff initial education and centre composition

Korea and Chile are the only countries reporting a statistically significant gap in educational attainment among staff depending on centre management. Korea is the most salient example, with 41% of staff in privately managed centres reaching the level of bachelor’s degree, compared to 69% in publicly managed centres (Figure 5.11). The relation between centre management and staff educational attainment is reversed in Chile, where 57% of staff in privately managed centres have reached a bachelor’s level, compared to 49% of staff in publicly managed centres. In the remaining participating countries, there are no consistent differences in staff educational attainment between publicly and privately managed centres.

Leaders’ levels of educational attainment are generally very similar in publicly and privately managed centres. Japan and Korea are the only two countries where large differences in centre leaders’ educational attainment are visible, with more centre leaders who obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in privately managed centres in Japan and in publicly managed centres in Korea (Table D.5.9).

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Figure 5.11. Staff educational attainment in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres
Percentage of ECEC staff who reported having graduated from a bachelor’s degree level or equivalent (ISCED 6) or above
Figure 5.11. Staff educational attainment in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked in descending order of percentage of staff in publicly managed centres who reported having graduated from a bachelor’s level or equivalent or above.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.9).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011743

Some noticeable differences are visible in public and private centres regarding the number of staff per child (the total number of staff working in the centre, regardless of their role, divided by the total number of children enrolled, see Box 4.5 in Chapter 4). In pre-primary settings in Israel and Japan, leaders in publicly managed pre-primary centres report more staff per child. For every ten children, leaders report 2.3 staff members in Israel and 2.1 staff members in Japan in publicly managed centres, compared to 1.8 staff members in Israel and 1.7 staff members in Japan in privately managed centres (Figure 5.12). In pre-primary centres in Korea, however, privately managed centres report more staff per child for every ten children, as they have 4.5 staff members for every ten children in privately managed centres compared to 2.8 staff members for every ten children in publicly managed centres. Privately managed centres for children under age 3 in Germany also report more staff per child than publicly managed centres. As a result, staff in publicly managed centres for children under age 3 in Germany and in pre-primary centres in Korea have to handle interactions with a larger number of children than their counterparts in privately managed centres. In the rest of the participating countries, there are no significant differences in the number of staff per child depending on the type of centre management.

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Figure 5.12. Number of staff per ten children in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres
Figure 5.12. Number of staff per ten children in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked in the descending order of the number of staff per child in publicly managed centres.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011762

Opportunities for and barriers to staff professional development

Professional development plays a key role in fostering process quality in ECEC centres, as examined in Chapter 3. This makes it important to understand how support for professional development relates to centre management. In the majority of countries surveyed, there is no difference in take-up of professional development depending on centre management. Pre-primary settings in Israel are an exception, as staff of privately managed centres are significantly less likely to participate in professional development than staff in publicly managed settings (Table D.5.10).

Take-up of professional development is influenced by the support that staff receive. Support for professional development consists of different incentives to encourage staff to participate in professional development, for instance through a reduction of working hours, or monetary and non-monetary rewards (see Chapter 3). In pre-primary settings in Israel and Norway, among those who participated in professional development over the previous 12 months, a larger share of staff in publicly managed centres report that they did not receive any support to do so compared to staff in privately managed centres (Figure 5.13). The case of Israel is of particular interest. Staff in publicly managed centres are more likely to take up professional development activities, but less likely to report receiving support for their participation than their counterparts in privately managed centres. This finding could suggest that other factors aside from explicit supports, such as a culture of participation in professional development within centres or leader support for ongoing training, can encourage staff participation in such activities, at least in pre-primary settings in Israel.

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Figure 5.13. Lack of support for professional development in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres
Percentage of ECEC staff who participated in professional development in the 12 months prior to the Survey but reported no support for this participation
Figure 5.13. Lack of support for professional development in publicly and privately managed ECEC centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked in ascending order of percentage of staff in publicly managed centres who report that they did not benefit from any support for participating in professional development activities over the previous 12 months.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.10 and Table.D.5.11).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011781

Variations exist in the variety of support for professional development offered for staff in public and private centres in several countries. In Chile, Denmark (in pre-primary centres, with low response rates) and Norway (in centres for children under age 3), staff in privately managed centres are, for example, more likely to be reimbursed for professional development activities. In Chile, Israel (both pre-primary and centres for children under age 3) and Norway (in centres for children under age 3), they also are more often supplied with the materials needed for professional development activities. In Korea, on the other hand, staff in publicly managed centres receive more forms of support for professional development than their colleagues in privately managed centres (Table D.5.11).

Staff in publicly and privately managed centres generally agree on the main barriers to their professional development. The only exception is the lack of replacement staff to accommodate for an absence, which is perceived as a barrier to professional development by a significantly larger percentage of staff in publicly managed centres than in privately managed centres in four of the nine participating countries at the pre-primary level. This item also ranks as the main barrier to professional development in public centres in all countries and levels surveyed, except in Chile, highlighting the high prevalence of this issue (see Chapter 3 and Table D.5.12).

In Korea, larger percentages of staff in privately managed centres than in publically managed centres report facing barriers to professional development, notably regarding a lack of incentives to participate in in-service training and the existence of conflicts between professional development and work schedules.

Urban location of publicly and privately managed centres

At the pre-primary education level in all countries surveyed, the share of publicly managed centres is higher than the share of privately managed centres in towns of 15 000 people or less. Privately managed centres are mostly concentrated in more urban areas (Figure 5.14). This is particularly striking in Turkey, where only 8% of privately managed ECEC centres are located in urban units of less than 15 000 people, while 44% of all publicly managed centres are in these smaller towns. Centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates) and Israel are the only exceptions, as privately managed centres are, on average, located in smaller urban areas than publicly managed centres. For all other countries and levels of ECEC, this reflects the important role of the public sector in ensuring that coverage of ECEC extends to municipalities with fewer people.

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Figure 5.14. Geographical location of public and private centres
Percentage of ECEC centre leaders who reported that their centre was located in a town of 15 000 people or less
Figure 5.14. Geographical location of public and private centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked by descending order of percentage of publicly managed centres located in towns of 15 000 people or less.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011800

copy the linklink copied!The relationship between aspects of governance and funding and process quality

Several aspects of governance, from the type of centre management to the quality of leadership, can influence the quality of the interactions between children and staff or between staff and parents/guardians. TALIS Starting Strong allows for the exploration of some of these linkages by investigating the association between indicators of process quality built from the Survey (see Chapter 2) and the aspects of governance and funding discussed in this chapter. Staff responses indicate the commonality of practices that favour children’s development and well-being at the centre level, including staff support for literacy and numeracy development, for social and emotional development, and for engagement of parents/guardians.

Centre management and funding and process quality

Regression analysis is used to simultaneously examine multiple characteristics of centres (e.g. the percentage of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes) and of staff within the centres (e.g. the level of education of staff in the centre), to better understand the associations of centre management, centre funding and leaders’ responsibilities with process quality.

With regard to centre management, staff in several countries working in publicly managed centres report lower support for some aspects of process quality, compared to staff working in privately managed centres, although the specific dimensions of process quality vary across these countries (Table D.5.13). In pre-primary centres in Germany, staff in publicly managed centres report lower support for prosocial behaviour among children and less facilitation of emotional development, compared to their colleagues in privately managed centres. Staff in centres for children under age 3 in Norway similarly report less facilitation of emotional development in publicly managed settings. In centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates), staff in publicly managed settings report less facilitation of literacy and numeracy development, compared to staff in privately managed settings. In Iceland, staff also report less facilitation of numeracy development in public versus private centres. Finally, staff in pre-primary settings in Norway and centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates) report less support for facilitating engagement of parents/guardians in their centres, compared to colleagues in privately managed settings. An exception to this overall trend is Chile, where staff in publicly managed centres report more support for facilitating engagement of parents/guardians.

With regard to centre funding, in centres for children under age 3 in Israel, staff in centres that receive funds exclusively from the government (and not from private sources) report more support for literacy and numeracy development, compared to their colleagues in centres that receive mixed public and private funds (Table D.5.14). Similarly, in pre-primary settings in Norway staff in centres that receive funds exclusively from the government report more support for facilitating children’s emotional development and facilitating engagement of parents/guardians than staff in centres with mixed funding sources. In contrast, in centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates), staff in centres that receive funds exclusively from the government report less support for facilitating engagement of parents/guardians compared to their colleagues in centres with mixed funding sources.

Leaders responsibilities and process quality

The extent of leaders’ responsibilities in their centres may also be relevant for process quality. In particular, the opportunity for leaders and/or members of staff to make decisions about the centre’s budget and recruitment allows them to shape the human resources and spending priorities of the centre, both of which matter for process quality. TALIS Starting Strong allows investigation of links between leaders’ responsibilities in the centre and process quality.

Results show that the fact that leaders and/or members of staff have influence on recruitment at their centres is associated with process quality in Germany, Japan and Norway (Table D.5.15). In pre-primary centres in Norway, staff in centres where leaders have a significant responsibility for recruitment policies report greater support for all dimensions of process quality, except support for facilitating engagement of parents/guardians, compared to staff in centres where leaders do not have this type of responsibility. Similar associations are seen in Japan, where staff in centres where leaders are responsible for recruitment report greater use of practices facilitating emotional development and the prosocial behaviour of children, compared to staff in centres where leaders are not in charge of the recruitment process. In centres for children under age 3 in Germany, staff also report more practices facilitating emotional development when leaders and/or members of staff have a significant influence on recruitment policies than when leaders do not have this influence.

copy the linklink copied!Governance and equity

In countries covered by TALIS Starting Strong, publicly managed centres typically serve a larger share of children whose first language is different from the language(s) of the centre than privately managed centres, although those differences are not always statistically significant (Figure 5.15). In Turkey and Norway, the difference is particularly notable: only 1% of private centres in Turkey and 30% in Norway serve 11% or more children whose first language is not a language used in the centre, compared to 20% of public centres in Turkey and 51% in Norway. This pattern is also visible in both levels of ECEC in Denmark (with low response rates). The same conclusion applies for children with special needs in Denmark (in both levels of ECEC, with low response rates), Israel (in both levels of ECEC) and Japan. This further indicates a tendency in these countries to concentrate children from similar backgrounds in the same centres (Table D.5.16).

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Figure 5.15. Percentage of ECEC centres serving 11% or more of children with a different first language, by centre management
Percentage of ECEC centre leaders who reported serving 11% or more of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre in publicly and privately managed centres
Figure 5.15. Percentage of ECEC centres serving 11% or more of children with a different first language, by centre management

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked in descending order of percentage of private centres that serve 11% or more children whose first language is different from the language(s) of the centre.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table.D.5.16).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011819

In privately managed ECEC centres, percentages of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes are also smaller than in publicly managed centres (Figure 5.16). These results point towards inequalities in access for children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes and, therefore, to the concentration of children from low socio-economic backgrounds in the same types of centres. Depending on national or local regulations, private centres may implement more selective access (e.g. due to higher fees) and hence enrol children from wealthier family backgrounds.

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Figure 5.16. Percentage of ECEC centres serving 11% or more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, by centre management
Percentage of ECEC centre leaders who reported serving 11% or more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes in publicly and privately managed centres
Figure 5.16. Percentage of ECEC centres serving 11% or more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, by centre management

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue (see Annex C).

Countries are ranked in descending order of percentage of private centres that serve 11% or more children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011838

Differences between public and private centres are the strongest in Chile, Turkey and Israel. In Chile, 79% of public ECEC centres serve 11% or more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, compared to the 45% of private ECEC centres. In Turkey, the percentages are 34% of public centres and 7% of private centres that serve 11% of more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. In pre-primary settings in Israel, the comparable percentages are 15% of public centres and 3% in private centres. The situation in pre-primary centres in Denmark (with low response rates) appears to be similar. In Chile and Turkey, similar differences are visible for publicly and privately managed centres serving more than 30% of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. This reveals a tendency for private centres to attract families from wealthier backgrounds in some countries. The concentration of children from low socio-economic backgrounds in ECEC centres can affect children’s development, learning and well-being, in particular through peer effects (OECD, 2018[1]).

Likewise, in participating countries, the percentages of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes are often larger in pre-primary centres funded exclusively by public sources than in centres that also receive private funding from various sources. However, the difference is only statistically significant in Chile (Table D.5.17).

copy the linklink copied!Conclusion and policy implications

This chapter presents an overview of the funding and governance structure of ECEC centres in countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, using both answers from the survey and additional system-level data. TALIS Starting Strong explores centre leaders’ perceptions on effective management and sources of work-related stress. The chapter also looks into the relationship between centre governance and staff’s level of education, perceptions on spending priorities and support for professional development. The relationship between centre governance, funding and various dimensions of process quality is also examined, as well as how access for groups of children from different socio-economic backgrounds relates to different centre governance and funding structures.

Policy approaches can include:

  1. 1. Ensuring that monitoring is guided by a clear regulatory framework that considers both structural and process aspects of quality: In countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, the organisation of governance of ECEC centres is very diverse, and centres are often supervised by different administrative entities. The ECEC sector also relies more on privately managed centres than higher levels of education. Monitoring tends to focus more on assessing the facilities and the financial situation of centres rather than on process quality. A clear monitoring framework that is aligned with minimum standards would provide guidance and help ensure that strong process quality is available for children across different types of settings. The Survey suggests that Germany and Japan, in particular, could better incorporate structural and process aspects of quality into the monitoring framework.

  2. 2. Increasing the efficiency of governance, while streamlining regulations, to ensure leaders can fully exert the various aspects of leadership: Leaders report that the main barriers to their effectiveness are inadequate resources for their centres, staff absences and staff shortages. They also report that their main sources of stress are administrative workload and changing requirements from administrative authorities. At the same time, staff across countries and levels of education converge on spending priorities: reducing group sizes; improving staff salaries; and receiving support for children with special needs. These findings highlight the importance of providing solutions to the issue of staff shortages through policies at the national level, but also ensuring that leaders have sufficient leeway to recruit more staff and to exert all aspects of leadership. They also point to the need to ensure that regulations do not create an excessive burden to leaders.

  3. 3. Ensuring equal professional development opportunities for staff: In several countries, staff in publicly managed centres report less diversified forms of support for professional development than staff in privately managed centres. Furthermore, staff in publicly managed centres report somewhat less support for facilitating children’s learning and development and engaging parents/guardians. An efficient policy would be to ensure that all staff in publicly and privately managed centres are supported to participate in professional development to promote process quality in centres. Supports for participation in professional development can be formal, such as reimbursement of associated costs or provisions of materials, as well as less formal, such as encouragement from centre leaders for staff to engage in ongoing training, collaboration and peer-learning.

  4. 4. Strengthening the role of the public sector in ensuring equal availability of ECEC settings within countries and across different groups of children of children: Publicly managed centres are significantly more likely than privately managed centres to be located in more rural areas, highlighting the importance of publicly managed settings in ensuring the provision of ECEC services across the national territory. Across countries, publicly managed centres enrol larger percentages of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre and children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. This further indicates the importance of the public sector in ensuring access to ECEC to all populations of children. National and local regulations can help ensure equal opportunities for all children to access ECEC. Authorities have to make sure that publicly managed centres have the capacity and support necessary to guarantee access to equal quality ECEC to children from all backgrounds, living in both urban and rural settings. This is particularly the case for Chile (with a large share of privately managed centres) and for Turkey (with a smaller share), where TALIS Starting Strong suggests inequality in access for different groups of children.

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5. Governance, funding and the quality of early childhood education and care