Early childhood education quality and child development in lao pdr
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Telethon Kids Institute Australia
University of South Australia Australia
Telethon Kids Institute
Princeton University United States
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1150
Globally, as scale up of early childhood education (ECE) continues, monitoring ECE quality is imperative to promote service aspects that drive positive outcomes for children. Monitoring of ECE quality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is scarce, limited by challenges in varied conceptualisations of quality, lack of measurement tools that reflect local culture and context, and implementation difficulties in low resource settings.

This research sought to describe quality of ECE across Northern Lao PDR and explore the association between ECE quality and children’s development. Advancing understanding of the quality of ECE provision in Lao PDR, how quality may be captured, and how it relates to children’s development, are all necessary steps toward informing interventions and policy aimed at improving ECE quality.

Using data from the World Bank Early Childhood Education Project we conducted a cross-sectional investigation on ECE quality and children’s development. Participants were children aged 2-6 years (n=1,168) attending ECE across 131 villages. Linear regressions explored the association between ECE quality, captured using the Measure of Early Learning Environments (MELE), and adult reported and directly assessed child development. Models were adjusted for child, household, and village level confounding variables.

Mean scores on quality domains indicated classrooms scored highest on Interactions and Approaches and lowest on Learning Activities. Results from linear models estimating the association between ECE quality and child development demonstrated Overall Quality had the strongest association with child development, followed by Interactions and Approaches.

Although associations between ECE quality and children’s development were small, findings reiterate the need for investment not only in expansion of ECE access, but also high-quality service provision. Emphasis on quality must extend beyond facilities and materials, to adequately equipping schools and teachers with the training and resources to facilitate learning through high quality interactions within any given context.

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