The role of graduation programming in promoting early childhood development: an overview of the evidence

by Keetie Roelen, Micah Sherer and Carmen-Leon Himmelstine

24 Mar 2020
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
30 (pp. 133-161)

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Abstract: It is widely understood that poverty undermines early childhood development (ECD). In turn, poor ECD reinforces intergenerational transmission of poverty. Comprehensive economic strengthening and social protection programmes, such as ‘graduation programmes’, may offer a ‘double boon’: they can improve ECD in the short term and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in the long run. This article provides a comprehensive review of the state of the evidence regarding the role of graduation programmes in ECD in the Global South. We find positive effects in relation to nutrition and health, but observe large evidence gaps with respect to safety and security, responsive caregiving and early learning. Tension between work and care, shortcomings in design and delivery and structural barriers form impediments to positive change. A greater and more holistic focus on children within graduation programming is crucial for securing ECD outcomes and ultimately achieving poverty reduction in the long run.

Keywords: Early childhood development, poverty, social protection, economic strengthening, graduation programmes.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 8, supplementary issue 2 (Early Childhood Development in the Global South).

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