Raising the Profile of African Education Research and Researchers: Early Childhood Development

ECD Photo: GPE/Livia Barton

Raising the Profile of African Education Research and Researchers: Early Childhood Development

This project focuses on understanding the ecosystem of Early Childhood Development (ECD) researchers and their needs in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (with desk-based research for Mozambique).

The importance of early childhood development for school readiness and future life opportunities is well documented in policy documents such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016 – 2025).

Despite the recognition, 250 million children (43%) younger than five years in low-income and middle-income countries are at risk of not achieving their developmental potential.

With funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) is collaborating with the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre to implement this project. They will map the landscape of ECD research to include the first 1,000 days of a child’s development (0-3 years) with a focus on education and its intersection with areas such as play activities, health and nutrition. 


  • Improve the visibility and accessibility of ECD research undertaken by sub-Saharan Africa-based researchers;

  • Establish a community of practice (network) and strengthen the capacity of sub-Saharan Africa-based ECD researchers (particularly early career researchers and female ECD researchers); and,

  • Advocate, communicate, and disseminate evidence on ECD from sub-Saharan Africa.  

Evidence from the study will be used to bridge the gap between African researchers and various decision-makers such as funders, policymakers and practitioners. Beyond the continent, evidence from this project will foster South-South collaborations and facilitate connections with researchers in other geographic regions in and/or outside Africa. 



Logo: University of Cambridge
REAL Centre, University of Cambridge

The Research for Equitable Access & Learning (REAL Centre) is one of the world’s top research institutions on education.

The REAL Centre is collaborating with ESSA to build a strong network of education researchers in sub-Saharan Africa, including those specialising in early childhood development, foundational literacy and numeracy. ESSA and the REAL Centre collaborated in 2017 to create the African Education Research Database, which now contains over 5,000 peer-reviewed publications on education produced by African education researchers.

The Research for Equitable Access & Learning (REAL Centre)

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is a family foundation established in 1944 to funds to nonprofit organisations working to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s $1.5M commitment will support ESSA’s research project in collaboration with the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK. 

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation