The Report of the NGO Educo ‘Not everything is worth’ talks about the vital importance of ensuring quality education and care for all children in their early childhood. It is in the first 1,000 days of life when the bases for development and learning throughout life are acquired, but it is also when the great social gaps that could define the future of minors begin to appear.
The economic barrier is the main choice faced by the most vulnerable families, leaving 52% of them without possible access to child care centers. Faced with this reality, the report offers a series of recommendations so that education in the life stage 0-3 years be a reality for all children in situations of poverty and vulnerability and thus contribute to breaking the circles of poverty.
“Investing in early childhood is important because it brings great benefits not only to boys and girls but also to their families and to society in general,” he declares. dory rodriguezEduco Education specialist.
Children who attend programs before the age of 3 have better educational results in later stages and lower repetition and dropout rates. It is also an essential measure to support upbringing and family reconciliationsince it favors the improvement of the employment levels of families, especially women, who are the ones who bear the burden of care to a greater extent.
How to improve access to Early Childhood Education
For this reason, Educo calls for the establishment of criteria for access to public squares that prioritize families based on their vulnerability, ensuring greater equity. “There is more demand than supply. The criteria for awarding the places have to be reviewed because there is a strong territorial imbalance in the access of the most vulnerable families. We are talking about migrants, for example, who find great barriers related to language or lack of knowledge of administrative processes; but we also talk about single-parent families, which, since there is no definition at the national level, are more or less unprotected depending on the community where they reside. Or families of the gypsy ethnic group, who do not have any type of consideration despite the fact that their inclusion is recognized in European treaties, ”argues Rodríguez.
Likewise, the report recommends that priority access to sons and daughters with both parents employed be reviewed. «It is precisely the families that are unemployed who have the greatest economic vulnerability. However, staying at home is considered as a capacity to be able to take care of your child, but then when do they look for a job? They are being denied the opportunity to get out of the spiral of poverty,” points out Rodríguez.
The lack of public financing is a major source of inequity in access to education programs before the age of three. Guaranteeing free early childhood education for children in the most vulnerable situation (33.2%) would mean an investment of 2,320.1 million euros. «The investment would go to the very root of the problem because we know that inequalities come from the cradle and it is a function of the administrations that we all have the same rights and opportunities. From the moment we are born, and very specifically in our first 3 years of life, our opportunities for the future begin to take shape”, says Dori Rodríguez.
Although the administrations establish gratuity in certain cases, this only reaches 22.2% of families: 27.3% of minors in the first income bracket -less than 5,297.10 euros of average annual income- and more than half of the second -between 5,297.10 and 9,588.60 euros- do not have social assistance to access child care centers.
Beyond access and its urgent need for revision, Educo also talks about the importance of advancing towards free and universal access, with an equitable and quality offer. According to the report, guaranteeing free access under quality conditions with the current enrollment rates would cost 2,796.7 million euros, while achieving the universalization of the cycle would cost 6,988.48 million euros.
Likewise, and until this happens, it is important to allocate available resources in such a way that they contribute to improving the quality of education and care. «That is why this report is called ‘Not everything is worth’ because it is not worth expanding the number of places without an in-depth study of the true needs and deficiencies. We are talking about quality, adaptation of infrastructures, spaces and material resources. You have to respond to the needs of the smallest and not forget to make an adequate allocation of personnel, ”says Rodríguez.
Among other various recommendations, the NGO focuses on the need to increase social awareness about the importance of this vital educational stage and the need to work to guarantee the rights and well-being of children. «Despite the many studies that speak of the importance of the first years of life, in which the brain is molded and the decision cards of the adults of tomorrow are dealt; The thought of the nursery continues to be perpetuated as a place for precisely that, on call. To ensure food and bed for boys and girls. It is vital that the message of the importance of the first years penetrates into society because we are risking the future. But not yours in particular, that of the whole society as a whole, “concludes Rodríguez.
52% of families cannot access nursery school for financial reasons