On March 26, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) co-hosted a half-day event about “Research on Early Childhood Development in Low Income Countries.”
Jacques van der Gaag (CUE) stated that the meeting’s motivation was to take stock of the current body of research available and Dr. Martha Zaslow, Director of SRCD’s Office for Policy and Communications, addressed the need to chart future research priorities among researchers dedicated to the field of child development in developing countries so as to inform program and policy approaches.
Marc Bornstein (NICH) presented evidence from the UNICEF MICS survey on 41 countries (5 in LAC) and 2 million respondents. He showed that the HDI (Human Development Index) and positive caregiving of young children (as measured by cognitive and socio-emotional activities carried out by the main caregiver at home) were very correlated.
Maureen Black from the University of Maryland presented a summary of the Lancet series on Child Development and identified 5 priorities for action: under nutrition, violence, lack of stimulation, iron deficiencies, and maternal depression.
Amer Hassan from the World Bank presented results from an investigation on ECD services in Indonesia with a focus and setting evaluations from the onset, before scaling up; and Pablo Stansbery (Save the Children) showed results on the positive impacts of pre-school in Mozambique (one of the authors of this paper is our IDB colleague Sebastian Martinez!).
Jef Leroy (IFPRI) presented a paper on the (mildly positive) impact of day care programs on child health and development in LAC (I commented his presentation pointing to the heterogeneity of the effects in relation to the age of the child and the quality of the center).
We then had a stimulating brainstorming session on next steps; and Joan Lombardi (Bernard Van Leer) and Kofi Marfo (University of South Florida) closed the event with two central recommendations: first, the need of a unique repository for ECD research, and second the importance of a good communication strategy, particularly for policy makers in less developed countries.