Jan van Ravens

policy advisor for

Early Childhood Development

Welcome to my site! My name is Jan van Ravens, policy advisor.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) was one of my main fields of work between 2008 and 2018. It has been a privilege and an honor to support 30 low- and middle-income countries in making the world a better place for young children. I worked partly as an independent consultant and partly as an affiliate to the Child Study Center at Yale University.

My decade in ECD was part of a longer period (between the turn of the century and the outbreak of COVID-19) of exceptionally favorable conditions for progress, with (i) high economic growth, not least in low-income countries; (ii) decreasing fertility rates; (iii) substantial reduction of poverty; (iv) accumulation of scientific and experiential knowledge about child development; (v) new insights into the returns on investments in child services, and (vi) enhanced global commitment to human development (MDGs, SDGs).

But progress fell short of expectations, according to trend analysis (see Global Reports, below) and personal observations in the 30 countries. Economic growth in developing countries expressed itself mainly in increasing attendance of unregistered preschools whereas the expansion of the formal system began to slow down in 2015 and came to a standstill in 2017. Below you can find a paper written in 2015 that predicted this and is still relevant as an explanation of what went wrong. More importantly, there is also a recent publication about a policy instrument called The Preschool Entitlement on how to restart expansion.

The trend analysis also showed that the reduction of Under-5-Mortality began to decelerate around the year 2005 especially in parts of Africa and Asia, and that this might be associated with the spread of a governance concept called integrated ECD. This hypothesis is supported by an essay on The Governance of ECD which promotes LAMP: Locally Adaptable Mono-sectoral Policies. LAMP is an occasional name for a widely applied governance concept in which it is the local level that decides how to shape and combine public services, requiring the national level to deliver policies that are distinct and locally adaptable, and to maintain quality standards through inspection.

This site is a platform for my mission in life: to promote LAMP and The Preschool Entitlement. The site also discloses a selection of my country reports. If you have any questions, my friend, please contact me at janvanravens@hotmail.com .

The Governance of ECD. Lighting the LAMP of Locally Adaptable Mono-sectoral Policies
2022
LAMP is an occasional name for a governance concept that addresses multi-sectorality by making use of the advantages of decentralization. This report applies it to ECD and explains why it is urgent that LAMP comes in the place of the governance concept of “Integrated ECD”.
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The Preschool Entitlement
2023
The expansion of preschool education came to a global standstill. How can we restart it? This paper proposes a policy instrument called the Preschool Entitlement, inspired by many local initiatives around the world.
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ECD Trend Analysis (abstract)
2023
Trend analysis shows that the reduction of under-5-mortality decelerated from 2005 onwards, whereas the expansion of preschool education began to slow down in 2015. This paper investigates these setbacks and looks for explanations. The paper is currently being peer reviewed; here you can find an abstract.
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Locally Adaptable Parenting Programs
2021
This paper is about enhancing the cost-effectiveness of parenting programs by making these locally adaptable while safeguarding quality. The proposed measures reduce human and financial resources requirements by a factor four. Costs to the government are in the order of 0.02% of GDP. This is an example of a LAMP: a locally adaptable mono-sectoral policy.
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Locally Adaptable Parenting Programs (Excel File)
2021
This Excel file supports the publication Locally Adaptable Parenting Programs that you can find hereabove. The file presents cost estimations of 76 countries.
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Why SDG 4.2 is counterproductive
2015
Written in 2015, this note warned that SDG 4.2 would cause a slowdown in the expansion of preschool education. Since the prediction came true, the note is still relevant as an explanation of what went wrong.
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Expanding and Improving Early Childhood Care and Education. How Much Does it Cost?
2008
Pioneer costing study, focusing on preschool education and parenting programs. Co-author: Carlos E. Aggio, expert economist based in Buenos Aires.
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The following 12 country reports are directly available by clicking. They are followed by an overview of the remaining 18 countries. If you are interested in one of these 18 countries, please contact me at janvanravens@hotmail.com .

South Africa
2023
Presentation on the Preschool Entitlement for a webinar hosted by Ilifa Labantwana on May 3rd, 2023.
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The Netherlands
2022
“AD naar MBO” Please note: this report is in Dutch only and it is NOT related to ECD.
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Serbia
2018
Serbia intends to increase preschool enrolment by means of short programs that are more cost-effective than the traditional kindergartens. An interesting feature is that the short programs do not constitute a parallel system; they function under the aegis of the kindergartens. Recent government decisions, however, tend to jeopardize this strategy. This report is written by a team from Yale University.
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Moldova
2017
Moldova has maintained a very high level of enrolment in predominantly fullday kindergarten by earmarking a part of communities’ decentralized budgets for preschool education. However, salaries for preschool staff may appear to be insufficient to sustain this situation on the long run. This report is written by a team from Yale University.
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China
2017
The Chinese Development Research Foundation (CDRF) held a conference in Beijing in October 2016 to explore the possibility of universalizing “early learning” opportunities nation-wide. This report is based on a presentation at that conference, addressing both parenting programs and preschool education. Given the scale of the country, this brief report only provides a general response to the CDRF’s question.
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Azerbaijan
2016
Azerbaijan has been very successful in increasing preschool enrolment in a relatively short period of time. Here you find two reports (in one Word-file) that describe that process.
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Timor-Leste
2015
The NGO community in Timor-Leste has developed a great strategy to continuously create new ECD centers, which the government would “take over” after a few years by formalizing and funding them. Drafted by a team from Yale, this report shows how this mechanism can be instrumental in scaling up preschool education.
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
2014
Great support was received from the national UNICEF office in exploring the possibilities for expanding prechool education in this strongly divided country. The report contains some ideas on how to reach out to remote communities with small numbers of children.
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Uganda
2013
Jointly with Professor Jere Behrman, we developed scenarios for the expansion of preschool education in Uganda, including a benefit-to-cost analysis. The mission to Uganda revealed very important insights in local dynamics around community-based ECD centers. Please begin by reading the “Guidance to the Reader” paragraph on the title-page.
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Panamá
2012
This report would not have been possible without the excellent work by the national UNICEF office to involve policy makers. The policy was donor-initiated but soon became government-owned. The report was directly drafted in Spanish; no English version is available.
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Nigeria
2011
While official statistics suggested that few children in Nigeria were attending preschool in 2011, data from a household survey indicated that many are attending unregistered preschools. Under-age enrolment in primary school was also prominent. The situation found in Nigeria was one of the sources of inspiration for the idea of a Preschool Entitlement (see global reports).
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Kyrgyzstan
2010
This report benefited strongly from the excellent dialogue and cooperation between government and donor community. Two innovations by the Aga Khan Foundation will always remain an inspiration: the Jailoo (mountain meadow) kindergarten that travels with semi-nomadic communities, and the satellite model with a central kindergarten that supports smaller establishments in its vicinity (home-based and school-based).
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Macedonia
2010
The UNICEF national office in Macedonia has been very dedicated to making preschool education available for more children than just the happy few. It has been an honour to support this process by means of this report. (The country’s name is now North-Macedonia).
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Tanzania
2010
This report illustrates the enormous complications that come with attempts to implement a donor-driven “integrated ECD” policy in a country where ECD services are fragile and scarce. On the title-page, a comment has been inserted to elaborate this point.
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The 18 remaining countries:

Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Laos, Montenegro, Nepal, Pakistan, Perú, Romania, Sudan, Uzbekistan.

Contact me.

For any questions, please contact me at janvanravens@hotmail.com.
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Jan van Ravens

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