Innovative policies for ECE provision in eight countries
At a time of rapid social and economic change worldwide, governments are increasingly recognizing that early childhood policy provides a fertile arena for executing wider social, economic, political and educational ambitions. Today, many governments see ECE as a public investment with huge returns and are making considerable effort to support the development of ECE as an effective tool to help children build a strong foundation for school and life success and, therefore, better life chances, especially for children from disadvantaged and migrant backgrounds and children with special needs or disabilities. However, despite shared policy intentions, these recent studies also reveal that countries are at very different stages of policy development and implementation and may have adopted different strategies to achieve the shared goal of an affordable, accessible and effective ECE system. This chapter draws on the evidence gathered by the IEA International Early Childhood Education Study (ECES), undertaken from 2015–2016. As countries worldwide continue to work at ECE system development and policy options continue to be debated, this chapter aims to contribute to this reflective and evaluative process. It offers a critical reflection on key policy issues that flow from the policy initiatives in the eight ECES countries to set an agenda for all policy makers to consider as they move their ECE systems forward.