Children are the common basis for all dimensions of sustainable development. No advances in sustainable development will occur in coming decades without multiple generations contributing to societal improvement. Moreover, beyond sheer survival, children have a right to thrive, develop to their full potential, and live in a sustainable world.
Around the world, governments, organizations, and communities are working to improve the life chances of young children, from universal prekindergarten programs in the United States, to the Integrated Child Development Services in India, to the Madrasa Early Childhood Program in East Africa. In spite of these efforts, it is currently estimated that 250 million children under the age of 5 worldwide are failing to meet their development potential.
A range of powerful risk factors lead to this incredible loss of human potential. Malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, lack of stimulation and learning opportunities, and many other challenges result in high odds of early mortality, school failure, early pregnancy, joblessness, and costly disease. The levers for change rest in local and community strengths that promote resilience, as well as national and global action. Recognizing the interconnectedness of poverty reduction, health, education, agriculture, energy, gender equality, social inclusion, and development within planetary boundaries should place children and an inter-generational vision of development at the heart of the work of the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
This course draws from research in neuroscience, psychology, economics, anthropology and program implementation and evaluation in order to discuss Early Childhood Development and explore its role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Completing the course will lead to understanding:
The ways in which children grow during this most rapid phase of development (physical, social, cognitive, emotional)
- How the environment interacts with the body to build brain architecture and influence children’s growth and development
- Milestones of child development, what is it that children know and can do at birth, by the second year, by preschool age
- How child development and its contexts vary across cultures and societies
- How can programs and policies support children’s development?
- How can they best be implemented to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals related to children and youth?
- How can innovation push forward the field of ECD program development and how can you participate?