Building Foundations of Equity: Policy Analysis and Review

The Jaslika co-Director, Sheila Wamahiu presented the findings of a study entitled “Building the Foundations of Equity - Guidance Policy Analysis and Review” that AfECN had commissioned her to undertake in 2016/17. The study sought to answer the question: To what extent do national policies and action plans in sub-Saharan African countries address issues of equity and inequity, especially for children in the early years?

The study was based on a desktop review that focused on a scan of 26 publicly available policy documents from 10 countries in the sub-Saharan region. The documents reviewed included policies and plans on early childhood development, gender and orphans and vulnerable children. Selected teaching-learning materials for pre-primary classes, identified from Ministry of Education approved list in Kenya, were also subjected to equity analysis. The analyses were conducted using two equity tools developed specifically for the purpose..

The review revealed that at the rhetorical level, equity and associated issues of inclusion and non-discrimination were on the political and policy agenda of the sample countries. However, the extent to which they were visible varied from one type of policy to another. Overall, the ECD policies had an equity focus and incorporated an integrated multi-sectoral approach while clarifying the importance of coordinated sectoral policies and actions. To some extent, the policies for orphans and vulnerable children and other children’s policies and action plans addressed the early years, and proposed strategies to redress disparities. The gender policies reviewed, despite the obvious links of early years socialisation to the achievement of gender equality, paid the least attention to the education and development of young children.

Based on the findings, the report identified some opportunities for activists and practitioners to push the ECD agenda forward.  Among other things, it recommended that advocacy intervention should be informed by the results of the mapping of the national and sub-national ECD policy landscapes, and focus on the selection and analysis of equity sensitive indicators in the early years at all levels.