Early childhood development and early learning for children in crisis and conflict
Background paper prepared for the 2019 Global education monitoring report: Migration, displacement and education: building bridges, not walls

There is an urgent need for a comprehensive response, including early learning and family support programs, to the rapidly growing population of young children worldwide living in crisis and conflict.Substantial evidence from neuroscience to economics indicates that the early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for long-term health, learning and behavior. The first months and years are not only a critical period in an individual child’s lifelong capacity for learning, but weak learning foundations of children can compromise the long-term development of nations.iYet a review of Refugee and Humanitarian Response Plans conducted for this paper revealed that only 9percentof plans included the essential elements of early learning. Relative to health and nutrition programming, early education and parenting interventions were more likely to be omitted from the Response Plans. The rationale for focusing new attention on the educational needs of young children living in fragile conditions is strong: there is a broad body of scientific evidence; the international legalframework of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child asserts that all children have the right to health, education, legal registration, and protection from violenceand separation from parents, beginningat birth; and the Sustainable Development Goals for all will be not reached without a focus on the earliest years of life in crisis and conflict situations.iiThis background paper presents the case for increased attention and investment in early childhood in conflict and crisiscontexts,with focused attention onearly learning and family support.iiiThe scale of the problem, current science and evidence, current global standards and principles, and case studies are all discussed and priority recommendations are offered.



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