General Comment No. 7

Indicator Set 13: Provision of Early Childhood Education and Care Services

This indicator set aims to guide State parties in creating a framework of educational service provision for young children, whether at home in support of parents’ roles as “first educators” (General Comment No. 7 para. 29) or in childcare centres in either the public or private sector. The Group notes that article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child does not refer specifically to provisions with respect to early childhood; however, in GC7 the UNCRC authoritatively interprets “the right to education during early childhood as beginning at birth.” Therefore, information is requested regarding the quality of early learning programmes and primary programmes and services as child-centred, child-friendly, and rights-based (GC7 para. 28). In designing and operating these services, the three aspects of quality in early child development programmes and services should be kept in mind, that is, the structure, process and nurturance. Structure includes such things as appropriate staff training and expertise, staff-to-child ratios, group size, and physical characteristics of the service that ensure safety. Process aspects include staff stability and continuity, and relationships between service providers, caregivers and children.

  • Nurturant environments include those where
    • Exploration is encouraged
    • Mentoring in basic skills is provided
    • The child’s imagination and creativity is fostered (for example, through the use of art and storytelling)
    • The child’s developmental advances are celebrated
    • Development of new skills is guided and extended
    • There is protection from inappropriate discipline
    • The language environment is rich and responsive

A nurturing educational environment also must strongly reflect respect for diversity, social inclusion, and quality criteria. And it must promote equal treatment of boys and girls with regard to opportunity, expectations and aspirations. Also, the State should closely watch and tightly regulate the costs of such services, to make them affordable and accessible to all. Only when such services are universal, they serve to support all parents and caregivers in their primary role as first educators of young children (GC7 para. 29). Only then do they support, encourage and stimulate the young child’s curiosity, exploration, asking of questions and experimentation. The UNCRC also requests information about enrolment, levels of provision, and retention rates between the first and second years of primary education. It also makes more general references to quality standards with respect particularly to the empowering and supportive nature of the Aims of Education enshrined under article 29 of the CRC and further elaborated in General Comment No. 1.

Key Question: With respect to articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, what services are available to further the educational rights of young children and what measures are in place to ensure quality standards in materials and service delivery?