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Tool 2.2: Pre-primary Subsector

Analysis Tool

© UNICEF/UN0309362


The Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool operationalizes the Build to Last conceptual framework. It aims to support national stakeholders assess the strengths and weaknesses of all aspects of their pre-primary subsector (including equity, inclusion, gender, crisis setting considerations).

This assessment will support developing comprehensive strategies and action plans to address key subsector challenges. It also enhances understanding of the key components of an effective ECE/pre-primary subsector and how the components interconnect in coherent, powerful ways.

The analysis tool is based on the conceptual framework and has six modules, one for each of the five core functions, plus a module on the enabling environment:

  • Module 1: Planning and budgeting
  • Module 2: Curriculum development and implementation
  • Module 3: Workforce development
  • Module 4: Family and community engagement
  • Module 5: Quality assurance
  • Module 6: Enabling environment


All modules begin with a brief description of the purpose and focus (the core function or key factor in the enabling environment), followed by content on:

  • Goals the pre-primary subsector should prioritize in order to build a stronger system and achieve results for children.
  • Measures of progress for each goal. The measures are intended to encourage self-assessment and reflection, and to support monitoring of the pre-primary subsector’s performance.
  • Questions to accompany each measure. These questions do not cover every possible topic, and they may not all be relevant to your country’s context. They are intended to jump-start dialogue on some of the issues to consider in achieving the measures of progress.


Using this tool will enable the ECE Technical Working Group (TWG) or stakeholders to:

When to Use this Tool

The Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool can be used across all phases of the education sector planning cycle, from the ESA through sector review:

Figure 1. Building blocks of an effective pre-primary subsector
Figure 1. Building blocks of an effective pre-primary subsector
  • It serves as a critical complement to the ECE data mapping exercise to enable a “deep dive” analysis of the ECE subsector.
  • It supports building consensus on which aspects of the ECE subsector work well and which aspects require strengthening.
  • It supports identifying underlying challenges that are at the root of the problems and issues of the ECE subsector.
  • The results emerging from the deep-dive analysis may feed into the ESA report and inform the formulation of strategies in the context of ESP development.
  • It supports to further validate the findings of the ESA report as well as unpack the underlying challenges that are at the root of the problems/issues of the ECE subsector.
  • It helps inform the policy priorities and strategies to be included in the ESP.
  • It may support reflections whether the ECE strategies, corresponding activities and associated targets and indicators are achieved.
  • It supports identifying whether adjustments to the ESP and Operational Plan are needed.

Finally, individual institutions or country education clusters/LEGs/EiE Working Groups that manage and/or directly provide ECE services in countries affected by emergencies or conflicts may also use this tool. It may support the identification of ECE challenges to inform further questions to include in rapid needs assessments, situation analyses, and critical subsector information to include in emergency response proposals, joint response frameworks and/or Transitional Education Plans.

Beyond the ESP processes, the results from using this tool can be used for building stronger ECE systems in general. The table below outlines: (a) the module title and basic goal for analysis; (b) the main topics covered in each module; and (c) brief suggestions for how you might use the analysis results to build a stronger system.

Table 1. Basic content of the Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool’s six modules

Module Module 1
Planning and budgeting
Module 2
Curriculum development and implementation
Module 3
Workforce development
Module 4
Family and community engagement
Module 5
Quality assurance
Module 6
Enabling environment
Goal for analysis

To support reflection and discussion on the development of strong and responsive plans, across levels of government, for equitable provision of quality pre-primary education, making efficient use of available financial, human and physical resources

To support reflection and discussion on ensuring that children across pre-primary settings benefit from a developmentally appropriate curriculum and have access to learning and play materials that stimulate their development

To support reflection and discussion on the recruitment, development, and retention of a sufficient number of pre-primary teachers and other key personnel within the subsector, ensuring that they have the essential competencies, training and support required to promote children’s positive development and early learning

To support reflection and discussion on ensuring that families and communities are active participants and partners in supporting pre-primary programmes and children’s learning and development across early learning settings

To support reflection and discussion on ensuring that a coherent framework for monitoring the quality of pre-primary education is in place and that quality monitoring produces information at the relevant local, regional and/or national levels to support continuing improvements in both policy and practice

To support reflection and discussion on the four catalysts of a strong and supportive environment for the pre-primary subsector (ministerial leadership; policies and legislation; financing; public demand)

Main topics of the modules

Evidence-based planning and budgeting

Equitable access

Budget needs and financing mechanisms

Governance and accountability

Monitoring and implementation

Defining a pre-primary curriculum framework and the content of the curriculum

Disseminating and implementing the curriculum widely

Regularly reviewing and improving the content of the curriculum and its use

Establishing a strategy for recruiting pre-primary staff, based on clearly defined staff qualification requirements and competency profiles

Implementing effective and flexible pre-service training programmes, including alternative pathways to qualification and initial training

Implementing evidence-based programmes for continuing professional development, including setting up career pathways for the subsector

Promoting continuous improvement and staff retention through coordination and monitoring of pre-primary workforce development programmes

Engaging families and communities as strategic partners in pre-primary education

Supporting families in fostering positive home learning environments

Building adequate capacities across the subsector to engage with families and communities effectively

Establishing comprehensive standards for quality

Establishing functional quality assurance mechanisms, based on the overarching goals

Strengthening capacities across the subsector to monitor quality

Ensuring that quality monitoring facilitates quality improvements

Ministerial leadership

Policies and legislation


Public demand

How results of analysis can be used

Inform the development of an evidence-based plan, policy or strategy for the delivery of high-quality pre-primary education

Inform the strategic priorities and plans for delivering pre-primary services

Identify budget needs and financing mechanisms

Establish clear governance and accountability structures for implementation of the plan

Strengthen monitoring systems for evidence generation during plan implementation

Inform the development of a curriculum framework or curricular standards

Initiate curriculum reform

Develop a curriculum dissemination and implementation strategy

Inform review of curriculum content

Develop a monitoring framework for curriculum implementation

Develop pre-primary teacher competency frameworks (job profiles and competences)

Inform strategies for personnel recruitment, training, deployment, retention, and exit

Establish or revise pre-service training programmes or alternative pathways to qualification or initial training

Establish or improve professional development programmes

Strengthen mechanisms for continuous improvement, staff retention, motivation and performance monitoring

Inform the development and implementation of a national or subnational strategy for family and community engagement

Support the development of approaches to foster children’s learning at home

Support approaches to strengthen system-wide capacities to engage families and communities

Inform the design of a quality assurance framework with quality standards for service delivery

Strengthen mechanisms for a functional quality assurance system

Strengthen regulations, quality assurance and monitoring for improved service delivery

Inform review and course correction of subsector plans

Inform the pre-primary subsector situation analysis

Inform the development of pre-primary policy directives, strategies, or other laws and regulations

Make the case for fiscal space increases or financial allocations for pre-primary education

Organize and institutionalize a structure for leadership and governance within the ministry of education

Increase public demand and advocacy for quality pre-primary education

Key Information

Key Considerations when Using the Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool

The Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool is an adaptable resource. It is encouraged to adjust the goals, measures and questions to specific contexts and circumstances.

After reviewing and discussing the entire tool, the ECE TWG may decide that some goals, measures and questions are not relevant. Other goals might need more specific wording or examples to help stakeholders apply them to the local context.

The work of analysing the ECE subsector using the Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool is most effectively moved forward through a focused, well-planned hands-on consultative workshop experience that will encourage active, participatory reflection and exchange of ideas.

A series of supplementary resources are available to help the ECE TWG with carrying out such a consultative, collaborative workshop/convening. A methodology or “process guidance” is proposed for the workshop, including guidance on the analytic exercise, the prioritization of challenges and initial brainstorming of strategies to address challenges. Supporting resources include sample workshop agenda, suggested activities for the workshop, sample slides for the workshop sessions, etc.

The supplementary resources are in the “Additional Resources” section.

Each module of the Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool consists of detailed questions that prompt reflections (in a systematic and granular manner) on how well the particular core function or enabling environment factor is functioning.

This helps shed light on the strengths (what works well) as well as the underlying challenges (what is not working at all or is working but not as intended).

The underlying challenges that emerge from the “deep dive” analysis can and should be reflected in the ESA report and they form the basis for developing relevant and coherent ECE strategies that will feed into the ESP.

For example, a problem or issue of the ECE subsector might be the poor quality of ECE programmes. The use of the Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool will help understand the main challenges that are at the root of and contributing to this problem/issue – for instance, pre-primary curriculum is not consistently implemented due to lack of training for pre-primary teachers on the curriculum; the lack of in-service training and support/mentoring that meet the needs of ECE teachers; the absence of robust quality standards for ECE; etc.

Additional Resources