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Introduction

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May 20, 2011

The Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)
was launched by the Education Committee of the Paris-based Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1998. It was
motivated by a 1996 meeting of the OECD Education Ministers on the topic
“Making Lifelong Learning a Reality for All”. With the aim of strengthening the foundations of lifelong learning, the ministers set a goal of improving access to and quality in early childhood education and care and recommended conducting a Thematic Review (a cross-national study).

Through national Education Ministries, OECD member countries were
invited to participate. By the end of the project, twenty countries had
participated in the review’s two rounds.

Early in the review process, country representatives agreed
upon the framework, scope and process of the review, and identified the
major policy issues for investigation. Each country agreed to prepare or
commission a Background Report to provide contextual/demographic
information and respond to a set of questions about its provision of
ECEC programs and family policy. Each country was then visited by a four
member international expert team that met with ECEC officials and
community groups and visited ECEC programs. The team then prepared for
the OECD a Country Note presenting an analysis of the country’s ELCC
issues. Two summary reports were developed; Starting Strong, in 2001, and Starting Strong II in 2006. In addition, a series of international workshops on key topics (curricula and pedagogies; financing; ECEC for children from low income
families; data), commissioning a paper on each topic.

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