Rabat – From chances of survival and adequate nutrition to cognitive, social, and emotional development, inequality in access to quality early childhood development has many faces in Morocco, reflecting significant gaps between the most well-off and the most disadvantaged children.
While Early Childhood Development (ECD) is essential an “investment to yield better human development outcomes,” affecting not only individuals, but the whole nation, Morocco appears to lag in placing EDC among its priorities, according to a report issued Sept. 13 by the World Bank.
In terms of health and survival, advantaged children have good early health outcomes, with a nearly 100 percent chance of prenatal care, delivery care, and immunizations, and low chance of infant mortality.
On the other hand, disadvantaged children have only a 54 percent chance of prenatal care, 40 percent chance of skilled delivery, 65 percent chance of full immunization, and a 2.2 percent chance of dying in the first year of life.
Inequalities between the advantaged and disadvantaged persist in access to nutrition. The World Bank indicated that in 2011, 28 percent of the poorest children were underdeveloped compared to only seven percent of the richest.
Children from poor environments have only one percent chance of access to adequately iodized salt compared, to a 38 percent chance for the most advantaged children.
As for cognitive, social and emotional development, which play a major role in determining ECD, the least advantaged children had a 45 percent chance of receiving early childhood care and education, compared to 95 percent chance for the most advantaged children in 2012.
It is also almost guaranteed (99 percent) that children born in disadvantaged environments will be violently disciplined, while advantaged children have a lower chance of 74 percent.
The quality of parental involvement in children’s cognitive development is important to ensure adequate ECD.The World Bank wrote that an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study found that parents who play and talk to their children from their early days and who read books to them and help them with their homework have better chances that their children will do well at school.
However, in Morocco, “such cognitive stimulation from parents is rare,” particularly in disadvantaged families, either because of parents’ lack education, large household size, or even a lack of information among parents about the behaviors that can help their children succeed.
The World Bank ensures that Morocco “will reap long term economic and human returns” if it establishes “quality standards of early childhood care and education, which will need to be set, monitored and enforced across the country.”