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Section 1

Section 1

Strengthen Political Will for ECE and Understanding of the ECE Subsector

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Advancing the ECE subsector requires the interest and commitment of political leadership to bring visibility to ECE throughout the Education Sector Planning (ESP) cycle or other planning processes. Section 1 identifies the preliminary activities/actions that can help strengthen such political will for and an understanding of the ECE subsector, in preparation for strengthening ECE in Education Sector Planning (ESP) or other planning processes. These preparations broadly include advocacy efforts, setting up a technical working group and clarifying the ECE space in your context. This section also provides the background framework for an effective ECE subsector. This background is the overarching frame of reference and anchor for the toolkit.

As emphasized in the section “About the toolkit”, the ECE subsector often finds itself on the margins of education sector plans. One main challenge is the lack of attention to ECE when compared with other subsectors. Advocacy efforts to engage political interest across systems’ levels and independent of a countries’ development status are therefore needed to elevate the priority status of the ECE subsector.

Advocacy for ECE may take many forms (such as through coalitions and lobbying or the use of evidence briefs and multimedia products) and requires a variety of tools to produce well-thought-out advocacy strategies and plans. Contained within this toolkit are the Advocacy Workbook for Early Childhood Education and the companion ‘Advocacy for ECE Tools and Templates ppt.

These tools, which you can use( in consultation with partners) will step you through developing your global, national, or sub-national advocacy strategy and plan for ECE.

Experience shows that having a core national ECE Technical Working Group (ECE TWG) is a critical factor in ensuring that ECE is well-positioned in the ESP or other policy and planning documents. The membership and roles of this group can make a difference in sustaining and moving forward efforts to integrate or strengthen ECE in ESP processes. In some instances, there may already be such a group or similar structure (perhaps through the broader ESP development process). In cases where the existing working groups are not functioning optimally, it is important to reactivate and strengthen their activities.

It is important to have a clear definition of the ECE subsector (i.e., what is the ECE space in the national context), as well as an understanding of the key features of an effective ECE subsector (i.e., what makes an ECE subsector function well to deliver quality ECE). This will help stakeholders be “on the same page” as to the “what” that they are analyzing and planning for in the context of ESP processes.

In this regard, at the heart of this toolkit is the Build to Last conceptual framework (Tool 1.2) that identifies the key building blocks of an effective ECE subsector that can deliver quality ECE at scale (see Figure 1). As you will see, this framework will be referenced throughout the toolkit as it provides the overarching structure for analysis and planning for ECE.

Figure 1. Conceptual framework for an effective ECE subsector
Figure 1. Conceptual framework for an effective ECE subsector

Section 1 Objectives

The overall objective of Section 1 is to support countries heading into Education Sector Planning (ESP) processes with key preliminary actions/ activities that will prepare them as they embark on the Education Sector Planning (ESP) processes. This entails:

  • Strengthening political will and commitment in ECE;
  • Defining and clarifying the ECE space in the national context;
  • Establishing a core group of stakeholders that serves as the general advisory and technical body on ECE; and
  • Understanding the key features of an effective ECE subsector.
  • Develop your ECE Advocacy Strategy and Plan
To achieve these objectives, the following actions should take place:

This action supports efforts in stimulating/strengthening the political interest and commitment towards ECE. It is also relevant in contexts where there may have been a turnover in Ministries’ leadership requiring renewed advocacy efforts or where the engagement of stakeholders (such as civil society organizations, community leaders, teacher training institutions, private providers, etc.) is sought to support Education Sector Analysis (ESA) / Education Sector Planning (ESP) development processes.

This action is needed to build a common understanding around the building blocks of an effective ECE subsector that can deliver quality ECE at scale. Having this understanding will help ECE stakeholders appreciate the “non-negotiable” elements for quality ECE as well as the connections and interactions between the systems of the subsector. This will help ensure that stakeholders have a common language and understanding for engaging in joint analysis and planning for ECE.

This action is needed to build consensus, in a participatory manner, on how the ECE subsector is or should be characterized according to policy directives and related normative documents. This definition will be important to ensure stakeholders are “on the same page” regarding how ECE is defined in a context. This will help establish a common understanding of the “what” that they are analyzing and planning for.

This action ensures that a specific ECE TWG is established. The ECE TWG’s work will help ensure that ECE is integrated/strengthened in the ESA/ESP development (immediate-term aim). It will also have a role in collectively monitoring progress made against the ECE annual work plan and ESP (as part of annual review and reflection processes such as Joint Sector Reviews). This ECE TWG should be supported and recognized by the senior management of the Ministry of Education, either through their direct participation and/or mechanisms for decisions of this TWG to be recognized and/or endorsed.

This action ensures that an ECE advocacy strategy and plan is developed, implemented, and monitored, in alignment with your ECE goal in your context.  You may use existing fora, such as your ECE technical working group, under which you will develop your advocacy strategy to ensure your advocacy efforts are supportive of, and driving, the overarching ECE outcomes you seek under this working group.  Working in collaboration with partners to develop and implement the strategy, will ensure there is a shared vision and goal for your work, and will allow you to leverage your individual and collective capacities, resources, and networks to implement your strategy. This Advocacy Strategy should contain one lead to coordinate the development and activities(or tactics) shared across participating members of your strategy development group.

Section 1 Tools

The tools featured in Section 1 will support ECE TWG stakeholders achieve the key actions to strengthen political will for and understanding of the ECE subsector.

Cross-cutting considerations for Section 1

Advocacy initiatives are critical to ensure that ECE is elevated to the priority status that it deserves in all aspects of ECE systems strengthening. This requires a comprehensive approach and well-thought-out advocacy strategies and plans – while this is beyond the scope of this toolkit, we present here top-level considerations that may be further articulated in advocacy strategies or plans in support of ECE systems strengthening efforts. These key considerations include:

  • Strengthening political leadership and capacities (at both institutional and individual levels) on ECE;
  • Ensuring that ECE is well reflected across relevant policies and legislation; and
  • Boosting public demand for quality ECE.

Advocacy for ECE may take many forms and through a variety of mechanisms. Consider the following as you develop ECE advocacy strategies or plans:

  • Generation and dissemination of evidence to enable information sharing across all system levels and with external partners;
  • Channels for feedback, understanding and communication of political priorities (such as the ECE Technical Working Group vehicle);
  • Different types of advocacy events and communication assets and materials (e.g., human interest stories, presentations, radio spots, newspaper articles, blogs, posters and other communication for development activities);
  • Use of broadcast media, social media as well as technology-based platforms.

Identify which mechanisms, groups or organizations exist nationally:

  • national crisis preparedness, coordination and response groups or mechanisms such as: Government: Ministries, Ministry-led Local Education Groups, multi-sectoral national disaster preparedness and response body, Humanitarian coordination agencies: IASC-activated education country cluster, refugee/displaced persons coordination entity such as UNHCR, HC/RC, HCT;
  • education and non-education partners that champion gender (e.g. Ministries, NGOs, local CSOs, teacher unions); women’s rights groups, networks and collectives; youth-led networks and individual champions; and established inter-sectoral gender working groups or networks;
  • education and non-education partners (at both institutional and individual levels) that champion gender, inclusion and persons/children with disabilities (e.g. Ministries, NGOs, disabled persons organizations, ethnic or minority groups/associations);
  • institutional and governance structures across relevant sectors (ex. education, health, social protection, etc.) that are responsible for gender, inclusion and crisis-related aspects.

Identify if crisis, gender, and inclusion groups/mechanisms include ECE focal points/stakeholders which represent the ECE subsector or ECD already.

  • If yes, ensure these representatives are part of the ECE Technical Working Group (ECE TWG) for supporting ECE systems strengthening efforts (including through education sector planning processes). 
  • If no, identify representatives from these mechanisms to be part of the ECE TWG for engaging in the ECE systems strengthening efforts (including through education sector planning processes).
  • Ensure there are specific roles and responsibilities for representatives from crisis, gender and inclusion groups/mechanisms in the ECE TWG Terms of Reference, such as ensuring prioritized strategies, activities, targets and associated costs are crisis- and gender-sensitive and inclusive.
  • Ensure that these representatives have the required capacities or necessary support to fully engage in the ECE TWG.
  • Crisis, gender, and inclusion groups/mechanisms’ participation may also be an entry point to ensure ECE is well-reflected in future crisis preparedness and response; gender equity; and inclusion mechanisms and efforts.

Additional resources