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Tool 1.2: Conceptual framework

Build to Last: A framework in support of universal quality pre-primary education

© Ministry of Education, Kyrgyz Republic


The ‘Build to Last’ conceptual framework identifies the indispensable, interrelated building blocks of an effective pre-primary subsector, and promotes a systems approach to improving the quality of pre-primary education and access to services.

As a flexible frame of reference, it anchors and supports governments in creating or strengthening their vision and plans for pre-primary education.

The systems-strengthening or systems-building approach of the conceptual framework enables governments to shape the core functions and structures necessary to deliver and coordinate quality pre-primary education at scale. It provides an opportunity to examine and understand each part of the pre-primary subsector and the sum of these parts – how they relate to each other and how they link with the larger education sector.

A summary, brochure and animation video of the conceptual framework are available.


Using this tool will enable the ECE TWG or stakeholders to:

When to Use this Tool

As an overarching frame of reference, the conceptual framework can serve as a blueprint for strengthening the ECE subsector.

This is your ‘go to’ source, or blueprint, for understanding and becoming conversant in the subsector’s “building blocks.” Understanding these building blocks is important for starting the journey toward systematic engagement in reflecting on and strengthening the ECE subsector in education sector analysis and planning.

Given the objectives of the conceptual framework and its overall flexibility and responsiveness to varying contexts and situations, it offers a starting point for enhancing reflections and strengthening discussions throughout each of the ESP phases. Throughout this global toolkit, references will be made to this conceptual framework to help anchor, guide and articulate reflections and ideas around analysing and planning for ECE.

Figure 1. Building blocks of an effective pre-primary subsector
Figure 1. Building blocks of an effective pre-primary subsector

Key Information

The conceptual framework is designed to be given meaning by each country and each group of users, to be adapted for each country’s context and the specific ways its pre-primary subsector functions.

It is not meant to be used in a “one-size-fits all” manner. Countries are encouraged to consider the state of their ECE subsector to maximize the use of the conceptual framework to anchor, organize and structure their ECE analysis and planning.

  • If the ECE/pre-primary system has been underprioritized compared with other subsectors or not yet established, governments might wish to use the framework simply as a way to prompt reflection and discussion among their partners and a wide range of stakeholders. This could be a first step towards building an accurate picture of the pre-primary system and defining what is needed to develop a more effective subsector.
  • Other countries may already have a well-established pre-primary subsector. The framework may be used in a “moment of reflection” to gain a fuller understanding of areas that need even more attention or would benefit from a fresh approach. This could include deeper discussion and planning on how to link and coordinate the higher education system (ex. secondary or tertiary education systems) with local pre-primary training initiatives, or on ideas for strengthening feedback loops so monitoring data can be used to make ongoing improvements.
  • Countries affected by emergencies, armed conflict and other humanitarian crises will also find elements of this framework relevant in informing ECE action plans as part of sector-wide proposals and response plans or in developing transition strategies for the subsector. The points raised throughout the framework can often be adapted to contexts where the aim is to reach vulnerable groups of young children, such as refugees or the internally displaced (noting the commitment, under the UN Global Compact on Refugees, of host countries, states and other relevant stakeholders, to enhance the quality and inclusiveness of national education systems to facilitate access by refugee and host community children).

Because countries, contexts and cultures differ so greatly, the steps it outlines for establishing or enhancing ECE are a starting point.

The fundamental purpose of establishing, improving or expanding the ECE subsector is to support better outcomes and futures for children. Success is more likely if the ‘big picture’ perspective is applied.

Additional Resources