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Section 1

Section 2

Conduct ECE Data and Policy Mapping and Analysis

Jump to the tools


Section 2 includes resources to support your work during the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) phase. The tools in this section build on and help operationalize the guidance provided in Education Sector Analysis Methodological Guidelines Volume 2, Chapter 7 (methods for carrying out analysis of early childhood development more broadly) and MOOC Module 3 (key considerations for addressing ECE in Education Sector Analysis (ESA)).  Like tools in other sections, these are practical and user-friendly.

Conducting an Education Sector Analysis (ESA) is the first stage of the sector planning process (see Figure 1).  Outside of sector planning, mapping and analyzing available subsector data is critical to developing and revising policies, conducting a situation analysis to inform proposals and response plans in development and crisis settings, and identifying strategies for operational plans.

It is an evidence-based examination (usually based on existing data) of the entire education system, from pre-primary to higher education (including technical and vocational education and training and non-formal education). The Education Sector Plan (ESP) builds on the findings of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA). As such, it is critical that the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) provides a comprehensive picture of the ECE subsector.  However, in the past, this ECE-specific focus has often been weak or absent from the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) process.

The tools in Section 2 support a comprehensive and robust evidence-based analysis (both quantitative and qualitative) of the ECE subsector. This section also includes resources that will help you examine the core indicators of cost and financing variables.  This is intended to support your understanding of the costing/financing variables necessary for conducting an ECE financial analysis for the purposes of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA). The goal is to arrive at a synthesis of the strengths and challenges of the ECE subsector, to be included in the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) report or to inform other subsector analytical efforts. Importantly, this synthesis will be used to identify policy priorities and strategies to develop the Education Sector Planning (ESP)’s ECE components (please see Section 3).

Figure 1. Main phases of ESP development process
Figure 1. Main phases of ESP development process Source: GPE and IIEP-UNESCO, Guidelines for Education Sector Plan Preparation, IIEP-UNESCO, Paris, 2015



The overall objective of using the tools in Section 2 is to arrive at an evidence-based synthesis of the ECE subsector to inform the ECE section(s) (or ECE chapter) of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) report. The overall objective includes:

  • Identifying, consolidating and assessing available ECE data;
  • Filling requisite short-term ECE data gaps as necessary, and identifying longer-term ECE evidence generation plans as relevant;
  • Conducting a comprehensive analysis of the ECE subsector to identify strengths and priority challenges;
  • Formulating the ECE sections or chapter of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) report.

To achieve these objectives, the following actions should take place:

This action is needed so that available ECE data sources are identified, consolidated, and assessed (in particularly in terms of the data’s reliability). Through the process of identifying and assessing data, consensus will be built on which data sources should be used to inform the ECE section(s) of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) report, and serve as the evidence base for later identification of policy priorities, targets, baseline data sources for selected indicators, etc.

This action supports “taking stock” of what data need to be collected and how. It also helps countries to be proactive in identifying a plan to fill data gaps (with options ranging from low-cost, less time-intensive to higher-cost, more time-intensive).

This action focuses on analyzing the ECE subsector in a comprehensive manner (from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives) in order to prioritize issues that should be highlighted in the ECE portions of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA), Education Sector Planning (ESP), and ongoing ECE planning and implementation.

This action will help establish or enhance basic costing capacity across ECE TWG members, at the outset of Education Sector Analysis (ESA) and Education Sector Planning (ESP) processes. This will enable TWG members to engage in ongoing intra- and inter-sectoral dialogue and costing exercises, thereby informing broader financing decisions for improved ECE access, quality and equity. More immediately, enhanced basic costing capacity within ECE TWG members will make it more likely that ECE costing will be integrated into the Education Sector Planning (ESP) and into annual ECE planning and budgeting processes.

Section 2 Tools

The tools featured in this section will support ECE TWG stakeholders in arriving at an evidence-based synthesis of the ECE subsector to inform the ECE section(s) (or ECE chapter) of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) report.

Cross-cutting considerations for Section 2

In the context of an Education Sector Planning (ESP) process, the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) process is more than just an analytical and technical exercise. It also serves as a strong communication and dialogue mechanism for consensus building on the situation of the education system as a whole, enabling decision makers to arrive at a shared vision of the system’s characteristics and challenges. The Education Sector Analysis (ESA) process is therefore a key opportunity for advocacy efforts around ECE, to bring together all relevant stakeholders for joint understanding and consensus building on the status and “health” of the ECE subsector (including government officials, technical and financial partners, implementing partners, etc.).

The results and findings from the ECE subsector analysis process (including strengths and areas of improvement of the ECE subsector) can be used to highlight key issues that can further inform advocacy efforts (such as ECE inputs in national education, ECE-specific, or ECD advocacy strategies and plans), including:

  • making access to quality ECE a national priority; 
  • ensuring equity of access to quality ECE opportunities, particularly for the most marginalized and disadvantaged children and families
  • strengthening the quality of ECE;
  • increasing financing for ECE; and
  • enhancing ownership and accountability for the ECE subsector.

ECE services and programs are important to provide in crises to mitigate toxic stress that children and caregivers may experience as a result of the crisis and to ensure children’s developmental potential throughout their life course is not disrupted. Data suggests that nearly 25% of pre-primary-aged children live in conflict-affected countries, and only one in three children in these contexts were enrolled in pre-primary education.

To meaningfully map and analyze ECE crisis-specific strengths, needs, and opportunities and to include this analysis in your ECE Data Mapping and Evidence Plan and Education Sector Analysis (ESA):

  • Identify if existing education data systems and sources – and the extent to which these include the ECE subsector - are crisis- and/or risk-sensitive (refer to Education Sector Analysis (ESA) Methodological Guidelines Volume 3, Chapter 12, pages 13-17).
  • Consider the below crisis-related education data sources, and the extent to which the ECE subsector data is available from these sources.
  • Adapt the IIEP-UNESCO (2015) guidance (pages 10-12) questions for the ECE sub-sector which may be used to guide crisis-sensitive ECE subsector analysis in addition to using crisis-related questions in Tool 2.2.


Table: Crisis-Related ECE Data Sources

Type Definition Key sources
In-crisis data

Common education data collected after the onset of an emergency is below, adapted for ECE data.  Historically, ECE data has not systematically been disaggregated as a subsector /systems level in crisis education sector data analysis and reporting (which could be due to the lack of pre-crisis ECE data or lack of political interest).

Changes in ECE enrollment due to a crisis - disaggregated by institution type (e.g., government, community-based, development partner, etc.), geographic location, sex, age and other relevant factors such as disability, language, ethnicity

Number of at risk and/or affected ECE institutions - disaggregated by institution type (i.e. government, community-based, development partner, etc.), geographic location

Assessment data from crisis assessments such as education sector needs assessments, joint assessments, and/or institutions rapid assessments that included questions specific to assess early learning, stimulation, and well-being needs of young children, caregivers, and service provider s.  Assessments may be carried out by development partners, government, civil society organizations, faith-based or community organizations/leaders.

Similar crisis secondary data

Lessons learned about the impact of previous crises on young children and/or early learning/ECE 1) in the same country or 2) in another country

This may provide valuable insight into preparedness needs which were previous gaps  or challenges in other contexts and should be planned and budgeted for in the future.

See historical information from all key sources listed above for ‘In-crisis data’;

In addition refer to these data sources:

Source: Adapted from the  Global Education Cluster (2019) Guide to Coordinated Education in Emergencies Needs Assessments and Analysis.


In addition to the existing and crisis-related data sources, UNESCO (2020) Crisis-Sensitive Educational Planning Guidance recommends identifying and analyzing the existing or potential risks to the education sector and stakeholders as well as analyzing the education sector capacities to address risks.  This risk mapping and capacity analysis to prevent, address and respond to risks should include stakeholders from the ECE subsector – across institution and service provider types.  Refer to the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) Methodological Guidelines Volume 3, Chapter 12 (forthcoming) for more information on and examples of Risk Mapping.


If the crisis-related ECE data are not available or not disaggregated as a separate subsector within education system crisis datasets, consider:

  • Using rapid data collection mechanisms that can be deployed quickly to gather data (such as RapidPro);
  • Ensuring ECE data is comprehensively disaggregated (as a subsector and within individual institution’s data sets– including government, development partner, and civil society ECE crisis services and interventions)
  • Distinguishing the ECE subsector interventions/response as part of the education sector response as part of future crisis responses’ assessments, strategies, and plans and the way these are documented and reported.
    • For example, if and how many ECE service providers were trained as part of psychosocial support capacity building efforts for teachers? Were there distinct psychosocial support activities and methods for young children as part of this training?
    • Add ECE and/or ECD specific “tags” to sector cluster or area of responsibility secondary data review (SDR) matrices
    • Add ECD and/or ECD specific questions to sector cluster or area of responsibility needs assessments.


If crisis-related ECE data are limited or only available from specific institutions (e.g. development partners or private providers) and not at the systems level, this flags needs for:

  • Ensuring the ECE components of the Education Sector Plan and corresponding costed operational plans are crisis-sensitive to enable “traditional” ECE interventions and services to be adapted and transition in crises.
  • Integrating ECE and/or safety, resilience and social cohesion indicators into existing data systems (i.e. EMIS, specific institutions or sector clusters’ Theory of Change and Monitoring and Evaluation Plans and Frameworks). Refer to the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) Methodological Guidelines Volume 3, Chapter 12 for more information.

The gender realities of girls and boys in ECE have generally been neglected by policymakers. This may be linked to the low prioritization of the subsector in general and the global data showing overall gender parity in ECE enrolment. However, ECE has a critical role to play in achieving gender equality outcomes and promoting gender-sensitive learning. For example, evidence from Brookings Echidna Global Scholar Jin Chi (2018) suggests ECE service providers are imperative for initiating young children’s positive gender identity conceptualization from an early age.

Refer to GPE, UNGEI and UNICEF’s (2017) Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans which includes data sources and indicators (pages 34-37) and examples of factors affecting gender disparities in education (page 45).

The below questions support a gender-responsive ECE analysis as part of strengthening ECE Education Sector Analysis and Planning Processes which are adapted from the above sector-wide guidance to ensure the ECE diagnostic and analysis processes are gender-responsive and identify factors which could contribute to gendered barriers in the ECE subsector. 


These questions are not exhaustive, and there is a question example related with each core function area of the Build to Last Conceptual Framework and may be used in addition to questions included in Tool 2.2 and 2.4 for an ECE gender analysis.

Question 1 To what extent do gender considerations feature in the education policy context – including in ECE policies and normative documents (which are separate policies and/or integrated into the education sector policies and normative documents)?
Question 2 Do ECE policy [sections or] documents show commitment or intent to address girls’ education and/or advance gender equality?
Question 3 Are there other policies (on ECE program fees, school feeding as part of ECE interventions, types of ECE service provision modalities for example) that do not explicitly mention gender but that may impact young girls and boys and/or their caregivers (male and female) differently?
Question 4 Are there minimum quality standards for ECE service providers and professional qualifications for ECE teachers? Are such standards gender-responsive (i.e., do they reflect gender-related aspects, such as the need for a workforce with male and female teachers)?
Question 5 Is there a code of conduct for ECE service providers/teachers? Does it include stipulations related to corporal punishment and gender-based violence?  Does it have child-friendly, accessible reporting and referral mechanisms suitable for young children (girls and boys)?
Question 6 Is there a specific policy or other instrument to gender parity in the ECE workforce (given that the ECE subsector is a highly feminized subsector, there might be a need to increase the number of male teachers and other ECE personnel across systems)? This includes administrators, government staff – decision makers/managers/supervisors, youth volunteer ECE facilitators, and/or program managers?
Question 7 Are there policies or instruments in place to ensure that the development and implementation process for ECE curriculum and teaching and learning materials and pedagogy is gender-responsive?

Access to ECE is crucially important for children with disabilities, many of whom need additional support to compensate for the barriers they face due to their impairment. Chapter 11 of the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) Methodological Guidelines Volume 3 describes the key elements of inclusive education to be addressed when analyzing the ECE subsector, anchored in the principles of universal design for learning. These considerations may be used in addition to questions in Tools 2.2 and 2.4. These include:

Early disability assessment Early detection of developmental delays and health risks is essential to ensure that interventions can be provided early on. Early intervention services can change a child’s developmental path and improve outcomes for children and families. A checklist of indicative guidelines is available to assess whether the appropriate early detection systems are in place.
Accessibility of facilities Enabling all children with disabilities to get to preschool requires that the barriers within the community are identified, in particular those relating to transport and mobility. This includes accessibility to ECE programmes/preschools for children with disabilities, as well as physically accessible features of ECE preschools/ classrooms. A suggested checklist of considerations to assess mobility in the design of norms or standards for school construction is available.
Availability of equipment or aids/devices Different types of teaching/learning aids, assisted technologies and adaptations can enable children with disabilities to learn more effectively. In addition, equipment (such as desks, seating, and classroom design) need to reflect the needs of different learners, including collaborative and group working. Key questions to consider are provided to support the analysis on provision of appropriate materials, equipment and adaptations for children with disabilities.
Inclusive curricula An inclusive curriculum should provide all girls and boys, including those with disabilities and from ethnic and linguistic minorities, with the opportunity to acquire age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate knowledge and skills (with a holistic approach). A suggested checklist of considerations for analysis of inclusive curricula is provided.
Training of teachers in inclusive education There needs to be a sufficient number of ECE teachers that have the requisite knowledge, skills and dispositions to support the learning and development of young children with disabilities and children from ethnic and linguistic minorities. Teacher training is one of the critical elements driving teachers’ ability to provide inclusive education. Traditionally, teacher training to provide education for children with disabilities involves separate training on “special education”. Key questions to be considered for an analysis of teacher training in disability-inclusive education (from a quantitative perspective) is provided.

Additional Resources