Early childhood education and care (ECEC) – the phase before primary education – is increasingly acknowledged as providing the foundations for lifelong learning and development. Currently, 31 million children under this age live in the European Union and are potential users of ECEC. However, not all of them are able to access this provision. On average, 34 % or approximately 5 million children under age 3 attend ECEC.
To support the development of policy related to the provision of ECEC Eurlydice have released the second edition of Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe, which provides up-to-date analysis of the ECEC systems across Europe in the key quality areas identified in the Council Recommendation on High Quality ECEC Systems.
The report provides indicators on the key quality areas of governance, access, staff, educational guidelines as well as evaluation and monitoring. Cross-cutting these key areas, it presents a child-centred approach, with special attention being paid to the inter-relatedness of policies in different areas. The importance of inclusiveness in education is also stressed as high quality ECEC is considered to be one of the best ways to increase equity and equality in society.
Part one provides policymakers, researchers and parents with comparative information on the current ECEC policies across Europe. Part two gives an overview of the key features of national ECEC systems accompanied by a diagram of their structure.
The scope of the report is wide, covering centre-based and regulated home-based provision in both the public and private sectors in the 38 European countries (43 education systems) participating in the EU's Erasmus+ programme. It includes the 28 Member States of the European Union as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.