UNESCO – A Review of the Literature: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Personnel in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The past 15 years have witnessed worldwide recognition of the importance of investing in the early years of children’s lives, with rapid expansion of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) services around the world (UNESCO, 2015). However, progress in preprimary coverage has not been experienced equally across regions and within countries, and delivering quality ECCE at scale remains a challenge in many contexts. The recent global education framework, Education 2030, includes a target focused on expanding equitable and quality provision, including one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education. The ability to recruit, retain, and support qualified personnel for ECCE settings is critical for ensuring that this target is met. Evidence-based approaches are needed to address these challenges. Yet, limited information is available on ECCE teachers, including their training and professional development, classroom practices, and working conditions in low- and middleincome countries (LMICs) (UNESCO, 2012). This literature review seeks to synthesize existing evidence and identify knowledge gaps about pre-primary teachers in LMICs and the settings in which they work. This literature review was commissioned to inform the development of a common survey instrument for the UNESCO pilot Survey of Teachers in Pre-Primary Education (STEPP) which will collect data on ECCE personnel in selected LMICs. The authors address three key questions: 1. What is the evidence on the relationship among personnel characteristics, the quality of ECCE services and child outcomes? 2. What are the training requirements, working conditions, setting characteristics of ECCE personnel in LMICs? What beliefs do these personnel hold? 3. What are the trends and main issues surrounding the above-mentioned characteristics and their implications for access and quality? This review focuses on the characteristics and needs of personnel working in ECCE programs that meet the criteria of International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 0.2: pre-primary education covering children between ages 3 and 6. The authors focus on preprimary teachers/educators whose primary responsibility is working directly with young children and use the term pre-primary teachers interchangeably with ECCE personnel, educators, and workers, even though these terms often have different understandings depending on the context. The geographic focus is on LMICs, with particular attention given to the following countries that were potential participants in the STEPP project at the time of this review: Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Oman, the Philippines, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam. Where appropriate, comparisons are made between developed and lessdeveloped countries. 8 This literature review builds on and references reports from previous and ongoing initiatives, original research and academic studies, meta-analyses, literature and policy reviews, and technical reports at the international, regional, and country levels. The authors searched scholarly and online databases (e.g., Google Scholar, JStor, Proquest) for studies published between 2000 and 2015 that focus on the ECCE workforce and related policies, trends, and issues in LMICs. Search terms were associated with the following topics: (a) personnel supply; (b) personnel and setting characteristics; (c) professional development; (d) beliefs and pedagogical practices; and (e) working conditions and job satisfaction. The authors also conducted targeted searches of published and grey literature (including websites) for information on the workforce in the 15 potential STEPP pilot study countries listed above. There are limited cross-national and consistent data on ECCE personnel in LMICs, often because governments do not systematically collect and disseminate data at the pre-primary level. Most available studies focus on structural-level as opposed to process-level information. There are few quasi-experimental and even fewer experimental studies focused on the relevance of ECCE personnel variables to program quality and children’s outcomes globally. Moreover, the authors were unable to identify empirical studies focused on the relationship between the pre-primary workforce and access to ECCE provision. Additionally, despite the important role played by directors/managers and assistants in ECCE settings, there is limited information and research about the status, identity, and other related characteristics of these staff. These gaps in the literature and their implications are further explored in the conclusion.

Area: Global

Language:   English