What are the advances in early childhood education? The Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs are the world’s shared plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030) found that most countries should reach near-universal primary education by 2030, while schooling gender gaps are closing, even if parts of sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East remain still far behind.

The SDGs goal is to ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and promote learning opportunities for everyone. The "Jomtien World Declaration on Education for All'' states that "Learning begins at birth," and preschool has been included in all international declarations since 1990. Strong evidence shows that the foundations for adolescents and adults are established in the early years so it's a bad idea to keep thinking that education starts only in primary school.

The importance of the learning that occurs from birth until when kids enter formal schooling systems is considerable. Education begins at - and even before birth. Children's brain volumes double during the first years, reaching 80-90% of their adult sizes by age 3. Children's brain development is extremely fast, taking place as they interact with the people around them. Promoting early learning and leveling inequalities requires measuring kids' development and progress as early as possible. Practically from the start.

For example, fetuses and newborns are already able to distinguish their mothers' voices from others and, just a few days after birth, they can associate auditory and visual information, such as moms' voice and face. Kids are not only actively learning about objects and people around them from birth, but they are also learning how to learn, a fundamental ability.

Indeed, the foundations for school success and lifelong learning are set long before primary school. Both stimulating home environments and high-quality early educational programs are critical supports for a child's education and career.

Picture: Happy Family (ChildUp.com)