Few countries offer free early childhood education, UCLA research finds

Researchers reviewed data about pre-primary education policies in 166 countries.

Numerous studies from around the globe have shown that education before primary school is associated with children’s success in school. Still, few governments make tuition-free pre-primary education available for two or more years, according to a new study by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center.

“We know from previous research that early childhood education especially benefits children from low-income families,” said Alison Earle, a co-author of the study and a senior research analyst at the center. “We also know that one of the greatest barriers to enrollment in pre-primary education is the tuition. Making pre-primary education available at no cost is a critical element in efforts to reduce educational and economic inequalities.”

For the study, researchers reviewed data from 166 countries. They reported that 45 percent of the countries provide at least one year of tuition-free pre-primary education, and just 27 percent of the countries offer two or more years. Only 19 percent provide tuition-free pre-primary education and make it compulsory.

Read the full news release.

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