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Four cornerstones, a strong Foundation for Young Children (ECD-CG)

The Four cornerstones: A strong Foundation for Young Children (By the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Development)

Early childhood programmes provide a strong foundation for good health, growth, and success in education and life.

Investing in young children saves money and pays off now and in the long run.

Cornerstone 1: Start at the beginning!

Children have rights from birth, and families, communities, and governments must work together to ensure the realisation of these rights. Every child has a right to responsive parenting, a stimulating physical and social environment in which to grow and develop, good primary health care, a nutritious diet, and a safe, clean environment

From pregnancy through to the age of three:

  • Integrate, coordinate and improve services that are responsive to needs and desires and accessible to all young children and families, including promotion of caregiver/child interaction, stimulating environments, health, nutrition, and child care.
  • Provide universal access to family support programmes that address holistic child development, with special attention to
  • to the most vulnerable children and families.  

Cornerstone 2: Provide new opportunities for discovery and learning for children aged 3 to 6!

Children have the right to be safe, cared for, and stimulated at home, in school and in the community

The critical steps to achieve this:

  • Ensure access to at least two years of quality early childhood services provided in a range of informal, non-formal, or formal settings, both community and home-based, prior to formal school entry.
  • Focus on the development of children’s sense of self, their interactions with peers and adults, their confidence as learners, their language competence, and their critical thinking and problem solving skills - rather than more formal ‘school’ learning activities.
  • Provide information and support to parents and caregivers, including fathers, through wide-ranging family support activities that equip parents to help their children realise their full potential.

Cornerstone 3: Schools ready for children!

Schools have to be ready for ALL children -- those who have participated in early childhood programmes and are “ready” for school, and those who have not. The crisis in early primary education has to be addressed NOW.

Increase investments and improve the transition from home or preschool

to primary school and the quality of learning in Grades 1-3 by:

  • Providing teachers with knowledge about early childhood, learning environments and styles, and methods for teaching early literacy and numeracy during pre/in-service teacher training,
  • Giving children adequate learning materials, and
  • Ensuring smaller classes.

Cornerstone 4: Ensure the development of policies on early childhood

Comprehensive, integrated early childhood development policies promote the development of young children, their family, their community, and their nation!

For this, every country must

  • Develop, implement, and evaluate early childhood development policies and action plans, in the context of a national vision and strategies for young children, expanded investment in their development, and stronger intersectoral coordination.
  • Address early childhood across sectors, in all national and sub-national, policies and plans.
  • Guarantee adequate resources and multisectoral coordination by ensuring that early childhood is integral to national development policies and macroeconomic planning and budgeting.



Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development (CGECCD)
Microsoft Office document icon 4_cornstones_ar.doc