In the World Declaration of Education for All adopted in Jomtien in 1990, the international community committed itself to fostering early childhood care and education from birth. Ten years later, at the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000, countries and organizations agreed to “extend and improve comprehensive early childhood care, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children”. These two declarations of Education for All were historical landmarks in the field of early childhood care and education, crystallizing key ideas: on the one hand that human beings are born with learning needs and the right to satisfy them; on the other, that learning needs and development of young children are multi-faceted and require comprehensive care and education.
Current early childhood programs and policies are characterized by a diversity of participating sectors and institutions, both governmental and non-governmental. Although this diversity has made it possible to increase coverage and to reach more vulnerable populations, the lack of inter-sector and inter-institutional coordination has resulted in overlapping initiatives and often low-quality services. For this reason, coordination between different sectors of government as well as between governmental, non-governmental, and inter-governmental institutions is a great challenge to the development of early childhood policies and programs.
The present study of the UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/Santiago) examines different inter-sector coordination mechanisms for early childhood care and education and analyzes the factors that facilitate or hinder successful coordination at the national level. The study, which takes as a point of departure the experiences of five countries (Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Mexico), a review of the relevant literature, and systematization and analysis of information collected. It analyzes features of inter-sector cooperation mechanisms such as the origin of initiatives, the structure and composition of the mechanism, the functions developed by each, the results of coordination, and the lessons learned from these experiences.
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