The invisible crisis facing the world’s poorest, youngest children


Did you know – by their fifth birthday, a child’s brain will already be 90% developed?

If you didn’t, don’t worry. Most people don’t. Which is why we are facing an invisible crisis that affects the world’s poorest, youngest children.

But it’s a scary thought to think that the precious brains inside our skulls haven’t changed all that much since we were a wee nipper with scuffed shoes and grazed knees. Sure, it’s (hopefully) been stuffed with more and more information as we’ve moved through our lives. But our capacity to take in and use that information was determined all that time ago, by those first few years of our early life. 


The “invisible crisis of pre-primary education”

Despite its importance in a child’s future, pre-primary education is the most underfunded area of education around the world. 

A recent report by the University of Cambridge’s Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre on behalf of the charity, Theirworld, reveals that 85% of the world’s poorest children are set to fail before they even start school because they do not have access to pre-primary education.

The report says that investment in pre-primary education needs to dramatically increase from $11 billion to $44 billion if every child is to have the chance to do well in school and succeed in adult life.

Currently, pre-primary education receives just 1.15% of total aid to education. Almost 60% goes to tertiary education, predominantly benefiting children from more affluent families who have been able to access quality pre-primary education early in life. This means that the world’s education priorities are currently skewed towards the richest and most educated students. It is for this reason that vulnerable children living in remote. rural communities need intervention and support, to help give them the same chance in life.


Why pre-primary?

A 2012 analysis by UNESCO’s GEM Report revealed that investing in quality early childhood education helps improve access to and learning in primary school, and ultimately reduces achievement gaps between disadvantaged and advantaged children.

nursery quote

Pre-primary education is vital in preparing children for school, to ensure that they can master  skills and prevent them from dropping out. The effective training of early years’ educators informs all future learning and development for every child. It is the only way we can help these children achieve their dreams and create a better life for themselves and their families. 



The Challenge 

All nursery centres in Uganda are private and fee paying – a momentous struggle for most rural families. who live on less than $1 a day. The government does not have funds to allocate towards nursery education, and parents are required to make a contribution to pay for the teachers’ salaries.

Yet those children lucky enough to attend the nurseries are still failing to grasp an early understanding of reading, writing and numeracy in primary school. Nursery practitioners, often poorly trained, experience great difficulty in interpreting the curriculum and delivering it in a manner which will ensure pupils’ progress in the different areas of learning. The great majority of children end up dropping out of primary school by the age of 12.

This is a harrowing thought when considered that 50% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 15. 


We have only one chance to make this world a better place.

Do you believe in a world where every child has the same chance in life, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents earn?

We are working with the Masindi Education Office to train and support pre-primary teachers, so that they can help every child in their class learn, succeed and thrive.

Find out how you can help and become a champion of education for all by investing in a future where every child has an equal chance in life.


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