Early Childhood Development (ECD) has been widely recognized as an important factor determining children’s well-being and educational success. During the first few years of life, a child’s brain develops rapidly and a stimulating and nurturing environment promotes physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. However, 78 percent of children in low-income countries do not have access to any type of pre-primary (otherwise known as preschool) program. In Benin, despite various initiatives related to ECD, enrollment compared to primary school is low. Studies indicate that potential reasons for low-take up may be that parents are not aware of its benefits, or it may be unaffordable or inaccessible. At the same time, there is little evidence on the effectiveness of ECD in low- and middle-income countries.
The researchers aim to explore the short- and long-term effects of preschool on learning outcomes and student absenteeism and grade repetition, and identify whether the effects vary by gender or socioeconomic status. Using learning assessment data collected in 2014 and 2019 by PASEC on 2nd and 6th-grade students, the researchers will adopt a quasi-experimental approach to investigate the impact of ECD on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. They will rely on a variety of treatment effects models including those using machine learning methods in the identification process.
The results of this evaluation will contribute to Benin’s future considerations of ECD programs. Results forthcoming.
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