The World Bank Board last week approved a US$50 million credit to improve the quality and increase equitable access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in Sri Lanka. Early investment in human capital development is particularly effective at increasing the ability of disadvantaged children to access learning opportunities. It will also contribute to improve learning outcomes and support Sri Lanka to become more competitive in the global economy in the long run.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is emphasizing the importance of human capital formation, including the role of ECD, in realizing the country’s long-term development goals. GoSL has recently established the State Ministry of Child Affairs to specifically promote the development and wellbeing of children in the 0-5 age group. It has also developed a draft National Plan for Early Childhood Care and Development (2015-2020), to guide interventions in the ECD sector, which will be supported with this credit line.

“Sri Lanka needs to invest early, invest smartly and invest in all its people regardless of their socio-economic status if it is to meet its growth targets, end absolute poverty, and achieve shared prosperity” said World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Francoise Clottes. “Investing in Human Capital is crucial for the country to become competitive in the global economy, and this project aims at strengthening the foundation for Early Childhood Development in Sri Lanka”.

This five year project aims to enroll an additional 150,000 children in ECD centers, while enhancing an additional 2500 such centers to meet national quality standards.