Early childhood is an essential period for the development of the child’s brain. Research shows that children with low socio-economic backgrounds hear 30 million fewer words by the time they reach three years old than their more affluent peers. Additionally, in rural areas, millions of children do not own a single book. Therefore, the importance of early childhood education cannot be understated. It is therefore vital to provide children with a range of experiences that will help them develop their intellectual and social capacities.
In low-income countries, girls are disproportionately left out of school. While girls and boys are enrolled in school in roughly equal numbers, there is a significant gender imbalance in many regions, with girls outnumbered by boys in some countries. Children with disabilities are also severely under-served. In Africa, only five percent of learning-disabled children attend school, while seventy percent would attend if the schools had the necessary facilities. In the absence of schooling facilities, parents of these children often send them out to beg instead.
The court’s ruling relied on sociological research. The Clarks, a husband-and-wife team, gave black children in segregated schools white dolls and asked them to describe them as “good” or “stupid.” The study concluded that the segregation of children deprived minority groups of equal educational opportunities. A decade later, children from under-privileged families were enrolled in predominantly white schools. While there have been many cases of segregation and racism, these are just some of the examples.
Despite the high costs associated with education, Chad’s government has committed to increased education spending under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, aimed at reducing poverty and empowering women. Still, the only realistic way to pay for education in Chad remains through user payments. In low-income countries, school fees are prohibitively high and cannot be afforded by many families. However, user payments may be an excellent short-term solution.
The goal of enhancing children’s literacy is to help children learn to read and write. In addition, education lifts people out of poverty and improves their quality of life. UNESCO has estimated that primary education would lead to the survival of 189,000 women every year and a reduction of 15% in under-five deaths. The organization Save the Children is actively working in nearly thirty countries to improve literacy levels. Its work is a vital part of the education and development of children.
While the concept of kindergarten dates back to the 17th century, the reality is that nearly all children in the United States are in some form of school before they enter the first grade. Many state governments have expanded their kindergarten program and provide full-day or part-day care to help working families afford the cost. By the year 2000, all states had some form of kindergarten program for 5-year-olds. This makes kindergarten near-universal. The U.S. Census estimates that 98 percent of children are in some form of preschool before they enter the first grade. The other 60 percent are in primary or secondary education.
Corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to providing quality education to underprivileged children. Because school-based schools receive large amounts of foreign aid, it may be difficult for parents to make the decision to send their children to school. Further, government officials may shun school spending in favor of bigger-ticket items such as roads, which are more profitable and will not involve kickbacks. As a result, schools may be understaffed and children are at risk of being excluded from school.
In the United States, children under five are more likely to attend nursery school than children of affluent parents. However, these statistics aren’t entirely reliable. Research has shown that children from poor single mothers, children of high school dropout mothers, and children from middle-class families attend nursery schools more often. The United States also shows that children from affluent families are more likely to go to nursery school than those from poor families. In addition, high-income children are more likely to attend preschool and receive quality care.
The development of a child’s mental and emotional capacity is dependent on his or her home environment. Affluent parents are more likely to help out with school projects and class trips. In fact, seven out of ten parents with college-educated children help their children. Only a third of parents from low-income families do so. While this is an unfortunate fact, it shows the importance of a good home environment for children.