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Investing in young children : the SABER system approach (English)

Among the various investments in human capital that countries can make, those related to early childhood development (ECD) may have the largest returns later in life. The rate of return on investments in ECD depends on a number of factors, including the focus, length, and quality of an ECD program. But these rates of return have been shown to be as high as 17:1 (Heckman, 2008). By one estimate, increasing preschool enrollment to 50 percent in low- and middle-income countries could result in additional lifetime earnings ranging from $15 billion to $34 billion (Engle et al., 2011). During a child’s early years, there are four critical domains of development: physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional. Neurological studies have shown that synapses develop rapidly during a child’s first few years, forming the basis of cognitive and emotional functioning. Adequate nutrition and stimulation, especially during a child’s first 1,000 days, play a critical role in brain development. Malnutrition in the early years not only leads to poor physical growth, but can also impede brain development; it is linked with delayed cognitive development and low academic achievement throughout a child’s life. By contrast, early investments that reduce the risk of malnutrition can have long-term impacts on the individual, the community, and society as a whole. Similarly, early childhood education provides building blocks to ensure that children learn the skills necessary to succeed throughout life, from primary school through tertiary education and into the labor market.




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Denboba, A. Devercelli, A. Neuman, M. Sayre, R. Wodon, Q.

Investing in young children : the SABER system approach (English). Education notes ; no. 1 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.