It’s not often that OECD encourages governments to spend more – especially when public debt is soaring and budget tightening is the order of the day. But early childhood education is an exception.
Of course, everyone knows that education is important – that’s why we all went to school. But did you know that investing in high-quality early learning before children go off to school produces a greater payoff over the longer term, especially for disadvantaged kids?
So what does Japan do with its education resources? It puts less public money into each child’s learning in pre-school or in day-care than the OECD average. Yet, once that same child goes to school, more is spent on them than the OECD average.
As a result, Japan’s youngest children are missing out on opportunities that children in other countries are getting. The children most likely to miss out come from poorer families, as their parents can’t afford to pay high fees for high quality services. Yet they need it most. And society misses out too, because high quality early childhood education and care leads to greater productivity gains and better social outcomes.
So that’s why the OECD’s latest Economic Survey tells Japan to cut public spending and increase taxes (while taking into account the need for reconstruction spending) and also calls for increased public spending on high quality early childhood education and care. It’s all about investing wisely and well in children today for a better future tomorrow – and thereafter.
To learn more, read:
Economic Survey of Japan Overview (English)
Economic Survey of Japan Overview (Japanese)