C4EDC4ED

Project Description

(Picture: courtesy of Kazi Ashraful Alam)

Background 

In cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and the World Bank, we evaluate the Cambodian Government’s “Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)” program. The impact evaluation will shed light on the best practices in designing and implementing ECCD programs in low-income areas.

Education is one of the most powerful investments for inclusive and sustainable development. However, large disparities still exist with regard to education. Pre-schooling, despite proven high impacts on later cognitive attainment, remains the privilege of few.

Evaluation

The objectives of the ECCD interventions of this project are to assist the recipient to expand access to quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) for the three to five year olds through construction of facilities, provision of material, training of staff, as well as building demand for ECCD services among families from disadvantaged backgrounds, along with parental education to maximize the impact of ECCD services on child cognitive and psychosocial development, with a focus on primary school readiness. The project design strongly aligns with the Cambodian Governments Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (ESP), which seeks to promote equitable access to quality education. Despite the remarkable overall progress in educational access in recent years, important disparities in provision still remain, particularly at the ECCD level. Major gaps have thus been identified at school readiness level, which is critical for later success. The project’s special emphasis on promoting demand measures for ECCD services is intended to reduce socio-economic inequalities in accessing ECCD.

The evaluation aims to  an easily scalable and affordable early childhood education policy  that can guide the Cambodian Government in national policy matters.

Scientific evidence on the importance of early child development in improving schooling and later life welfare outcomes is strong. There is also a small but growing literature on the importance of school readiness for school success. However there is limited rigorous evidence on how to effectively deliver early child education services at scale in low-income and low-capacity environments. Therefore the work will have global scientific relevance with respect to how governments in such environments can make early child education available to large parts of the population.

The program evaluation measures changes in enrollment, retention rates, children cognitive and psychosocial development, and primary school readiness. The randomized research design allows for testing of different variations of the program. More specifically, it permits the measurement of additional effects of demand-side interventions, such as parents’ sensitization, through door-to-door visits and village-level advocacy. The impact evaluation is therefore expected to contribute rigorous evidence on how to effectively make quality and affordable early child education available to large parts of the population.