Early Childhood Education – what can we learn from Sweden?

A report from the Organisation for Economic Development described as a policy profile on the importance of early childhood eduction focuses on Swedens curriculum design and implementation. The report is packed with research and contains much of interest to people concerned with children’s early learning and development. Thanks to Sheila Laing for highlighting this report. The following is from the introduction to the report

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy priority in many countries. A growing body of research recognises that it makes a wide range of benefits, including social and economic benefits, better child well-being and learning outcomes as a foundation for lifelong learning, more equitable outcomes and reduction of poverty, and increased intergenerational social mobility. But these positive benefits are directly related to the “quality” of ECEC.

Definitions of quality differ across countries and across different stakeholder groups depending on beliefs, values, a country’s (or region’s) socio-economic context, and the needs of the community of users. While definitions should be interpreted with caution and sensitivity when comparing cross-country practices, the OECD has taken a two-tier approach to define “quality” to proceed policy discussions. Therefore, this policy profile considers quality in terms of “structural quality”1 and “process quality”,2 and sets out “child development” or “child outcome” as quality targets.

Based on international literature reviews findings, the OECD has identified five levers as key policies to encourage quality in ECEC:

1) Setting out quality goals and regulations

2) Designing and implementing curriculum and standards

3) Improving qualifications, training and working conditions

4) Engaging families and communities

5) Advancing data collection, research and monitoring

Of the five levers, Sweden has selected “designing and implementing curriculum and standards” to be the theme of its policy profile. As reference countries in focus for international comparison, Sweden has selected New Zealand, Norway and Portugal.

Download the report: (pdf, 1.75MB, 64 pages)


Or download from the OECD webiste