CG ECCD History

CG ECCD History

Origins of the Consultative Group on ECCD

The process of forming an inter-agency group concerned with child care and development began in May 1982 with informal discussions among staff from the Ford Foundation, the Bernard van Leer Foundation and UNICEF. These discussions culminated in a meeting in May 1983, co-hosted by the Ford Foundation and the Bernard van Leer Foundation and involving UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID and IDRC “to compare notes and experiences on how projects in these areas were developing and to consider whether and how it might be possible to coordinate and enrich the responses and agencies”.

The concept that evolved into the Consultative Group was documented prior to the May 1983 meeting in a discussion document “Seeking Sounder Strategies to Improve the Survival and Development of Young Children in the Third World” written by Robert G.Myers. The document was not tabled for discussion at that meeting, but became the basis for a proposal for an “Inter-Agency Service” that was formally presented to the Ford Foundation for funding as a follow-up to the meeting. Ford approved partial funding, and together with support and subsidies from UNICEF, USAID and High/Scope Foundation, provided the initial resource base for collaborative activities between these agencies.

4 Cornerstones

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Translation into other languages is underway.

With the release of The 2007 Education for All Global Monitoring Report: Strong Foundations the Consultative Group convened a special session at the 2006 Annual Consultation to begin to answer the question: what programs and policies should be in place to help assure the early development of children?

Participants from all regions of the world contributed to the development of 4 Cornerstones, or key messages about  early childhood development.  Since we know that there is no magic age or program, the Cornerstones are meant to reflect the developmental  spectrum of early childhood from prenatal through the early primary grades. Moreover, given that investments in early childhood vary tremendously across regions, the Cornerstones are meant to be adapted to the particular needs and issues emerging at the country and community level.  Various partners are currently using the Cornerstones frameworks to guide strategies for their ECD work, frame network activities and contribute to advocacy documents.

In using these key messages, particularly when helping to develop a specific policy agenda, questions to be considered include:

  • What do these statements mean at different levels i.e. for community, country or region?
  • Where is there progress? What areas need the most improvements?
  • How can the 4 Cornerstones be used to raise public awareness and to gain more consensus around a policy agenda? Where would one start? Which area needs the most attention?
  • Given the the various contexts – global, regional, national and local,  what messages are missing? What other goals are important ?
  • How can these messages be used to help build the capacity of the field of early childhood to take action on behalf of young children?
  • How can these key messages be used with policymakers? Media? Other new champions for young children?
  • What special events can be planned throughout the year that can highlight promising initiatives around each message?

The key concepts introduced in that document were:


To extract lessons from pooled knowledge;
To improve dissemination of information about child survival and child development projects; and
To strengthen project evaluations and evaluation methods.


Assemble and synthesize data from projects;
Write and commission papers for discussion and publication;
Organize seminars and workshops;
Assist participant/users with project evaluations; and
Provide information about new developments in the field.


Core staff;
Field-based associates; and
An Advisory Group made up of a representative from each participating institution.


The suggested strategy was to draw collectively upon the wisdom and experience of individuals and organisations working in the field by engaging them in a set of activities tied together through an on-going Inter-Agency Seminar. The seminar would provide a forum within which to assess the changing state-of-the-art, discuss topics of mutual interest, report on the progress of particular projects, clarify concepts and methodologies, and suggest and discuss new actions. Dissemination of ideas would occur regularly through interaction in the seminar, and as participants communicate results through their own networks. An interdisciplinary approach would be taken, with an emphasis on implementation, including costs. Results of the several activities linked to the Seminar would be drawn together in a major statement about tested ways to improve the effectiveness and reduce the costs of programs.

A number of collaborative activities were engaged in during the period June 1983 – October 1984, and at a meeting in October 1984, at which the topic “Going to Scale” was discussed, the decision to form the CG was taken. That meeting was attended by representatives from ten (10) institutions – the original six (6) and The Carnegie Corporation, the World Bank, the Aga Khan Foundation and WHO. Initial funding was provided by Ford, UNICEF through USAID and the High/Scope Foundation. Both UNICEF and then High/Scope was used as the administrative base for administering and receiving funds.