More than 175 million children, about half of all pre-primary-age children globally, are not enrolled in pre-primary education, said the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a report released Tuesday.

In low-income countries, the picture is much bleaker, with only one in five young children enrolled in pre-primary education, said UNICEF’s first-ever global report on pre-primary education. “Pre-primary schooling is our children’s educational foundation — every stage of education that follows relies on its success,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Yet, too many children around the world are denied this opportunity.

This increases their risk of repeating grades or dropping out of school altogether and relegates them to the shadows of their more fortunate peers.” The report revealed that children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school. Children in pre-primary education are more than twice as likely to be on track in early literacy and numeracy skills than children missing out on early learning.

The report noted that household wealth, mothers’ education level and geographical location are among the key determinants for pre-primary attendance. However, poverty is the single largest determining factor.


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