The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of daily life but presents an added burden on families with young children. Closures of preschools and child care centers have put a strain on caregivers to meet all of the developmental needs of children at home. This, in combination with economic instability and social isolation, is a recipe for toxic stress, which can have long-term negative effects on brain development and health.

Even before COVID-19, 8 out of 10 children in low-income countries did not have access to pre-primary education. We are missing a critical window of opportunity to build the foundational skills that set young learners on a path to success in school and beyond.

Recently the Center for Universal Education (CUE) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion that examined the current state of pre-primary education around the world—who has access, how it is funded, and what “quality” means—and what is needed to prioritize and accelerate progress toward providing quality universal pre-primary education for all. Joan Lombardi, long-time adviser of CUE and senior scholar at the Center for Child and Human Development at Georgetown University, moderated the discussion, and I provided opening remarks.

The discussion kicked off with brief remarks from leading global organizations, including UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with an update on their efforts to highlight and both protect and increase public funding for pre-primary education .

Read the full article about early education by Helen Shwe Hadani at Brookings.