Australian national reforms and legislation since the mid-2000s has increasingly recognised the importance of high-quality preschool education for improved learning, development and health for all children. Access to and equity of quality early childhood services are important public health issues, underpinning a civil society for all Australians. Indeed, there is a global movement to address prevailing gaps in school achievement and socio-economic status, with increasing funding and policy developments directed at whole of government early childhood programmes. This is exemplified in developing countries by the intensive work of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank in Southeast Asian and Pacific nations. This chapter begins with an overview of the well-established international evidence for the impacts of high-quality preschool programmes. International and Australian evidence is presented on the risk and protective factors that are foundational to life outcomes. These are typically conceptualised (and measured) in childhood as ‘school readiness’. Several of these contributing factors to ‘school readiness’, especially in remote contexts, demonstrate the complexity and holistic approach needed to achieve preschool service design for child development and a future focus on life outcomes, also defined as human capability (health, education, socio-economic and civic participation). The socio-demographic contexts of remote Northern Territory, Australia and some parallel features in neighbouring Timor Leste are used to illustrate the difficulties in providing optimal health services and early education and care programmes such as preschool, to children living in regional and remote settings. Geographic isolation, difficulties in attracting or developing qualified staff and costs are just some of the barriers to quality preschool for remote children in many parts of the world. This chapter then draws on a rigorous cohort study, the Mobile Preschool Effectiveness Study and project work in Timor Leste to highlight the importance of programmes, research and improved policy at the health education nexus. In addition, the chapter draws attention to the prospect of longitudinal evidence, using linked data, providing more nuanced insights and improved solution finding for remote communities.
|Title of host publication||Health and Education Interdependence|
|Subtitle of host publication||Thriving from Birth to Adulthood|
|Editors||Richard Midford, Georgina Nutton, Brendon Hyndman, Sven Silburn|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|