Publication Date



Developing countries, Development education, Early childhood education, Literature reviews,


This scoping review responds to the increasing interest in improving early childhood education and care (ECEC) in economically developing countries. It examines available research in relation to the question: What effective interventions have been implemented recently in economically developing countries to improve children’s learning in the years before school? As much of the research underpinning ECEC interventions has focused on economically developed countries, it is timely to review available research about the effectiveness of interventions in the economically developing world. The ECEC interventions were categorised as Income supplementation (n=8); Parent-focused interventions (n=37); Child-focused education and nurturing care (n=35); Integrated interventions (n=4); Quality (n=20); and Comparative (n=5). Within the 109 studies selected for the review, 46 different instruments for assessing children’s learning were used, with many other studies using measures that were not clearly identified. This diversity in measurement poses challenges for meta-analysis and suggests the need for reliable, low-cost, fit-for-purpose measures of young children’s learning that can be applied consistently in diverse international contexts to compare the effects of interventions. This review aims to assist researchers and project teams in ECEC to draw on the available evidence when planning interventions. It also aims to set evidence-based suggestions for future research on ECEC interventions in these contexts. Studies included in this review cover interventions between 1998 and 2017 that actively sought to improve children’s learning before the commencement of formal schooling. Another key criterion for inclusion was that studies must have examined the effectiveness of an intervention using measures of children’s learning or cognitive development.

Place of Publication

Camberwell, Australia


Australian Council for Educational Research