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Nurturing early childhood

May 18, 2009

State of the World’s Mothers 2009, the tenth annual report of Save the Children focuses on the inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and their children. The report provides effective solutions to early education challenges and the need for strategic policies in carrying out proven programmes.

State of the World’s Mothers

Publisher: Save the Children, May 2009.

More than 75 years of experience on the ground has shown that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive.

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This report seeks to find out how well children around the world are faring during the formative early years. The report highlights the urgent need to reach 75 million children worldwide who fail to complete primary school.

Early childhood – the period from birth to age 5 – is the most critical period of growth and learning in a person’s life. When children receive good quality care and learning opportunities in their earliest years, they have a better chance to grow up healthy, to do well in school, and to reach their full potential in well-being and productivity.

Key findings

  • Early childhood care and development is a proven and powerful investment in national well-being and future economic prosperity.
  • Many children are at great risk of failure in school because they are not getting the care and support they need in their early years.

It has been found that in the developing world, nearly 40% of all children under 5 fail to reach their potential in cognitive development because of poverty, poor health and nutrition and deficient care.


  • Invest in better health care for mothers and young children.
  • Provide coaching and information to help new mothers and fathers give their young children the best possible chance to succeed.
  • Improve training and support for early child care providers and preschool teachers.
  • Expand early learning opportunities for children affected by AIDS, conflict and natural disasters.

In many developing countries, the majority of working mothers are in agriculture or non-formal markets. Many women need help and assistance to think through, plan and implement quality care and a stimulating learning environment.

Voluntary and community-based organisations may lend some assistance to the poor who need it most. The report calls attention to areas where greater investments are needed to support early childhood development and to advocate for better policies and increased funding for conducting programmes.

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