Investing in early care is investing in the future

03.04.24 | News
Barn i huske
Photographer
Helena Wahlman
Investing in daycare centres and professional staff has socio-economic benefits. It helps to level out differences and give children and parents equal opportunities, according to a new report from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research.

The report "EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE – an Investment in the Future" provides a brief overview of Nordic research in the field of early childhood education and care (ECEC). It shows that quality care and education enhance children's individual well-being and the development of their language, social and emotional skills. Research also suggests that children who attend preschool do better in school later on. 
 

For parents, the research shows that they fare better in the labour market and earn more when their children are in daycare. 
The report was written by a Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Education and Research working group, and the recommendations are clear:

  1. Provide qualitative ECEC for all children by investing in ECEC professionals and institutions. Research indicates that the investment pays off in the long term.
  2. Encourage groups with lower-than-average levels of participation to use ECEC services.
  3. Broaden the knowledge base to measure the impact of Nordic ECEC and how it helps promote social equity. 
     

Encouraging progress towards a society with equal opportunities for all, regardless of social, cultural and language background, gender, mental or physical differences, needs to be part of our daily work. 

Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers

The Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Karen Ellemann, herself a teacher, stresses the social importance of good education and care.


"One of the key prerequisites for an integrated, competitive and sustainable Nordic Region is that we maintain and improve social equity and trust in our Nordic societies. Encouraging progress towards a society with equal opportunities for all, regardless of social, cultural and language background, gender, mental or physical differences, needs to be part of our daily work. That is one of the foundations on which our societies are built," she says.


Although the Nordic Region is a leader in ECEC in many ways, it also faces challenges. 
 

Greater diversity in the Nordic countries is reflected in ECEC institutions. The Nordic countries need to invest in and enhance the quality of their institutions and focus on training qualified staff to support the well-being, development, care and education of children. 
 

The growing shortages of qualified preschool teachers throughout the Nordic Region is a trend that needs to be reversed.
 

Equally problematic is the fact that wage rates for ECEC staff in all of the Nordic countries lag behind those of other graduates in the public sector and that there is a huge gender gap in recruitment.
 

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