Early childhood education rewards 'will outweigh investment'

A YALE scientist will speak to federal politicians in Canberra this week about the need to invest more in early childhood education, after OECD research revealed Australia was lagging behind comparable countries.

Assistant Professor Dr Pia Britto will tell decision-makers how early childhood education is being overlooked by many governments.

"Research published in the 2011 Lancet Child Development Series reviewed 73 low and middle income countries and found that increasing preschool enrolment rates to 25% could yield an estimated US$10.6 billion through higher educational achievement, while a 50% increase could generate $33.7 billion,' she said.

"If Australia were to focus more of its international aid on early childhood care and development initiatives the long term rewards will far outweigh the investment."

Dr Britto said some people may not realise the role early childhood care and development played in learning outcomes later in life.

"Over one third of the world's children younger than five years of age fail to achieve their full potential due to malnutrition, poverty, disease, neglect, and lack of early learning opportunities," she said.

"By placing some emphasis on this area, the Australian Government can increase the impact of their other education initiatives by ensuring that children are ready to learn and ready to succeed in school and life."

Topics:  canberra early childhood education investment

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