A large body of evidence from education, neuroscience and economics has led to increased policy emphasis on the period of early childhood development (birth to 8 years). Programme evaluation research from both developed and developing countries has indicated that early education promotes child development and school readiness. Participation in early childhood programmes helps reduce risks, supports development and can break the cycle of inequity faced by millions of children and families. Hence, early childhood programs are regarded as fundamental to the promotion of social justice and equity. These programmes promote growth in different developmental domains. Further, studies o have shown that the brain develops most rapidly in the first years of life, and that it is positively affected by environmental stimulation. Other research has drawn attention to the larger economic returns of government investment in early childhood compared to adulthood.
Genetic factors interact with the quality of care and education received by a child to determine developmental outcomes. Nurturing care includes health promotion, adequate nutrition, and provision of a secure and safe environment, and support for early learning. The importance of nurturing care for promoting optimal development has been recognized by the global community. Indeed, United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.2 states: “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” To attain SDG 4.2 in the recommended timeframe, it is imperative that we conduct policy-relevant research and synergise and leverage extant research in the field of early childhood development and education.
Against this background, the Consortium aims to:
conduct high-impact research on Early Childhood Development and Early Childhood Education (ECE);
engage in leadership activities that will enhance the quality of early learning environments;
conduct research that contributes to ECE policy formulation and implementation;
contribute to the integration of theory and practice in ECE, with a particular focus on regional cultural contexts;
disseminate research findings to diverse stakeholders, including researchers, policy makers, practitioners and parents;
initiate research projects and programmes to attract PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and scholars to the Faculty and the University; and
provide nourishing surroundings to let ECE researchers thrive.