Date: 26-02-2021

Free Harvard course: Addressing the Need for High-Quality Early Childhood Development Programs

With an estimated 250 million children younger than 5 years in low- and middle-income countries at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, there is an urgent need to increase multisectoral coverage of quality programming that incorporates health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving, and early learning1. While the science behind the importance of early development and funding for these programs has increased globally, policy development, research, and implementation best practices have not been widely adopted.

Specifically, and in order for children to meet development goals, there is an urgent need for programs that incorporate actionable, measurable, and global intervention strategies.

In a new course “Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Professor, Aisha Yousafzai, aims to fill the void by combining early childhood development (ECD) with implementation best practices—creating a learning environment where course attendees will not only develop and iterate on a theory of change for their own program or organization, but will also receive feedback and guidance from industry experts and a cohort of global peers.

“There are many promising ECD interventions being implemented around the world. This course is intended to be an opportunity to share learning about what implementation features make some interventions more effective and successful than others,  and what we can do to improve the impact and quality of our interventions.” - Course Faculty Aisha Yousafzai

Protagonists to be used in the course represent some of the most well-known and widely recognized global foundations focused on research and evidence-based policies and programming, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Head Start, Kidogo, Grade R, and more.

Partnering with UNICEF, Early Childhood Development brings global and real-world examples to the forefront of this learning opportunity — from communities to policymakers, researchers to advocates, and NGOs to frontline workers. The examples and collective years of experience will enhance the learner’s perspective, while providing a unique opportunity to access worldwide organizations and leaders.

 “A resource that will increase awareness of the importance of implementing ECD interventions, especially the delivery of cost-effective services for young children, by walking learners through evidence-based implementation case studies.” Pia R. Britto, UNICEF

“This timely and state of the art course on Early Childhood Development will help build key capacities of UNICEF staff, governments and partners in implementing multisectoral ECD programmes to achieve and promote positive development outcomes for young children, including those  in humanitarian contexts.” Chemba Raghavan, UNICEF

The course starts with a review of basic early childhood development concepts and successful implementation programs, before exploring why some programs succeed, why others fail, and what strategies are key for enabling widespread adaptation of quality programming. Over a six-week span, learners will spend two to three hours weekly covering topics from designing interventions, to measurement and data systems, to the future of early childhood development. At its completion, course takers will return to their organization energized with new plans and ideas ready to implement.

This is a self-paced course. Though registration begins in February, starting dates are flexible. If you plan to audit this course, we recommend enrolling as soon as possible to have adequate time to complete the course. Learn more or enroll in Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation!

1 “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale 1”

Lancet. 2017 Jan 7; 389(10064): 77–90.