Holistic Early Childhood Development Index
The Holistic Early Childhood Development Index (HECDI) is a project by UNESCO to measure child well-being and happiness throughout the world. Scheduled for 2013, the HECDI is the conclusion of a Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation: Harnessing the Wealth of Nations , established during the 2010 World Conference of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which called for an index to track progress towards EFA goal 1, with the emphasis on "the quality and holistic aspects of ECCE"
Five reviews of early childhood indicators were commissioned by UNESCO and undertaken by a group of experts for the purpose of developing recommendations for the content of the HECDI. The five reviews cover areas critical to early childhood development and provide an inventory of indicators relevant to each realm, assisting Member States' capacity to monitor progress towards achieving quality ECCE.
The five reports are:
The report, edited by Alfredo R. Tinajero and Anaïs Loizillon reviews the early childhood indices and indiators, pertaining to child development and developmental care and education from birth to the age of 8. The report seeks to answer the following questions
“Which characteristics are crucial to the HECDI?”
A population-wide measurement (rather than individually), in which the development of a group of children in relation to other groups of children can be assessed, as can protective/risk factors that affect development; The Index should be as holistic as possible, according to the recommendations and should cover child development from antenatal life to 8 years of age. Information could be obtained by surveying key people such as mothers, or preschool and early school teachers on children's well-being.
“How can the measure be guaranteed to be free of cultural bias?”
The issue of cultural appropriateness is inevitable in the HECDI design phase and can be overcome only through rigorous validation and a piloting phase.
“What indices and indicators are commonly used worldwide to measure child development, developmental care and education?”
The authors identified 5 components, prevalent in the major child well-being indexes
- The mother and the home environment
On this subject, there is a lack of indexes relative to post-partum depression and mother's perception of social support, factors important to the early development of children.
- Developmental care and education services
There is a lack of measurements available relating to antenatal-perinatal-neonatal healthcare and child health check-ups.
- Child development outcomes
Physical health measures are more common than socio-emotional or cognitive/language development indicators. UNICEF's MICS-3 uses early sensory-development as an indicator, and remains the only index to do so, while MICS-4 considers socio-emotional development before preschool.
- Biological and environmental risks
Children living in war zones are omitted in most of the indexes. Access to drinking water and basic sanitation is not included in most indexes, however is measured through MDG7.UNICEF’s MICS-4 and UNICEF’s Report Card on Child Protection are the only major international surveys comprising child protection indicators.
Poverty indicators are measured by 12 of the 30 indices but most of them omit important factors such as the quality of parenting or ECCE programmes.
This report recommends that the HECDI
Provide positive support for countries to utilise HECDI indicators, by celebrating their progress rather than grading them and by utilizing incentives such as technical advice or financial support.
- Create a “single point of contact” for ECD data in each country
- Encourage the development of national ECD monitoring and evaluation plans
- Request that nations provide complete information on national ECD indicators
- Provide technical guidance to national ECD policy planners and statistical personnel
- Provide training for ECD planners and statisticians on ECD indicators
Develop indicators and analyses on key crosscutting topics such as conflict or emergency-affected countries or areas of countries, developmental delays and disabilities, linguistic and ethnic groups, special child and maternal protection issues related to culture, gender, geography, HIV/AIDS and other diseases (malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, etc,), poverty level (or income level of families) and environmental issues (hunger, water, waste management, climate)
- Develop criteria for the selection of ECD indicators
- Select a limited number of high-priority indicators
- Select a good balance of indicators for the HECDI and national policy instruments
- Establish benchmarks for EFA Goal One within the HECDI
- Link ECD indicators to Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategies
- Recommended Indicators for ECD Policy Planning and Implementation
Indicators were recommended for inclusion in the HECDI, and represent distinct forms of social protection
- Minimum Wage and Family Allowances: the generosity of the minimum wages and the universality of this benefit were recommended.
- Family Benefits by the duration, generosity, universality of benefits for children 0-8 and the suppelements provided to single parents, orphaned or disabled children
- Unemployment Benefits through their duration and generosity, and the supplement accorded to those unemployed with dependent children. The ratio of unemployment benefit recipients to total unemployed was another indicator highlighted.
- The Maternity/Paternity Benefits through their duration and wage replacement rate.
- Sickness Benefits through their duration and wage replacement rate.
- Working Time Policies
- Disability and Work Injury Benefits
There has been growing awareness in recent years that the development of indicators is central to developing capacity to monitor human rights that provide legal protection for children of all ages and adults alike, as well as evaluating the performance of countries in implementing these rights. This desk review gauges existing efforts and reveals gaps in the field of legal protection of children under eight years of age. This report identifies the main gaps in the legal protection of children.
• An obstacle to the protection of children's rights is that their Early Child Care and (Development)rights are not formally and explicitly guaranteed in any international human rights treaty. UNESCO may fill this gap through facilitating one UNESCO convention.
• Most of the available comparative data from existing sources cover mainly school-age children and adolescents, not early years.
• Data systems fail to measure the legal protection of young children and have to be reconsidered
• Children are not involved in the identification of indicators and data collection.
• Education statistics present children as numbers, with school places matching the intake, or the ratio between teachers and pupils conforming to the established standards. As such, discrimination, abuse, or the violation of legal rights of children cannot be measured with the existing framework
The last report reviews the existing health indicators, and selects indicators for the HECDI
- Antenatal care (health services coverage indicator) (MDG 5)
- Immunization coverage (health services coverage indicator)
- Mortality (health status indicator)
- Delivery and birth
- Antiretroviral prophylaxis (health service coverage indicator)
- Infectious diseases: Acute Respiratory Infections (Health service coverage indicator)
- Infectious diseases: Diarrhea
- Infectious diseases: Malaria (health services coverage)
- Maternal mortality (health status)
- Environmental conditions: drinking-water, sanitation and household use of solid fuels (risk factor indicators)
- Complementary feeding
- Children’s nutrition status
- Women’s nutritional status
- Status of micro nutrients