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Council recommendations on high-quality early childhood education and care systems

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The European Union
government document
Publication Date: 
21 May 2019


The European Pillar of Social Rights states as its 11th principle that all children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. This is in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which recognises education as a right, with the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child and with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 that foresees that all girls and boys should have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education by 2030. 

In its Communication ‘Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture’ the European Commission sets out the vision of a European Education Area acknowledging the role of early childhood education and care in laying solid foundations for learning at school and throughout life. The Council Conclusions on school development and excellent teaching and the Council Recommendation on Key Competences for lifelong learning reiterated the pivotal role that early childhood education and care can play in promoting learning of all children, their well-being and development.

Both policy makers and researchers recognise that it is in the early years that children create the foundation and capacity to learn throughout life. Learning is an incremental process; building a strong foundation in the early years is a precondition for higher level competence development and educational success as much as it is essential for health and the well-being of children. Therefore, early childhood education and care needs to be regarded as the foundation of education and training systems and be an integral part of the education continuum.