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About the SIPP Project

Why Safe Inclusive Participatory Pedagogies of Early Childhood Education?

Young children face deep inequalities and are often deprived of their rights, especially in challenging contexts. Early intervention and prevention have become key international drivers for shaping early childhood policies and practices to address inequalities. In particular, high quality ECE can be a protective factor for children against the negative effects of poverty and other inequalities (including gender) and improve long-term developmental and employment outcomes.

The importance of ensuring that early childhood education programmes are targeted, equitable and inclusive is paramount, with one of the biggest challenges being to ‘reach the poorest, most remote and marginalised children’ and to ensure high quality early childhood provision even in the most ‘challenging ’settings. In response, governments across the world are moving to compulsory pre-school and early learning; this creates a pivotal moment for: a) understanding the challenges/opportunities for such provision in different contexts; and b) radically rethinking future directions of ECE globally. Significant implementation questions arise: quality of learning experiences and professional support; culturally meaningful and appropriate pedagogy; and the affordability, inclusivity, accessibility and sustainability of ECE provision. These issues have only become more pertinent in recent years, with the pressures of, and responses to, the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project concentrates on children (and their families) below the age of compulsory primary schooling in four different ODA settings with particular challenging settings. This choice is deliberate, as children under 5 tend to be the least provided for, especially within ODA countries and challenging settings where significant challenges emerge regarding ECE provision. We focus on formal ECE settings but also the intersecting and vital contributions of households, extended families, more informal sources of childcare and community resources.

Our Approaches

SIPP uses mixed method approaches to identify and develop safe, inclusive participative pedagogy that is implementable in challenging contexts and sustainable for governments, communities and families. The project is guided by four sets of research questions and organised into six Workstreams.

Research Questions

  1. In what ways and how do current policies, systems and organisations support safe, inclusive participative pedagogy in these contexts? What are the tensions and how can they be resolved?
  2. What information, knowledge, support, partnerships and expertise can be mobilised to understand these contexts and the threats, assets and opportunities for early childhood learning, young children and their families? What are the findings from such mobilisation and their implications for developing and supporting safe, inclusive participative pedagogy?
  3. How can safe, inclusive participative pedagogy become imbedded and sustainable in communities, their formal and informal contexts, so as to support children’s early learning?
  4. Is there an economic case for safe, inclusive participative pedagogy? If so, what are the relevant components and what are the short- and long-term costs and benefits?


Community engagement and participation are at the heart of the SIPP project. Each country has established approaches to community engagement that work in their local context to minimise and address local issues of power, hierarchies and inequalities, and facilitate intergenerational dialogue.

In order to understand the structural and systemic factors that affect early childhood education, each country is undertaking a policy and systems analysis at national and community case study-levels. The project extends a social policy approach to early childhood education, adding in concerns about children’s human rights, violence prevention and children’s experiences of intersecting inequalities (gender, ethnicity, disability, age etc.).

Each of the 4 country partners is conducting a case study in one or more local communities. The community case study includes:

  • A review of early learning and potential early learning supportive resources and spaces.
  • Interviews with key community stakeholders including community decision makers and early childhood educators.
  • Creative participatory methods to gather the perspectives of young children, their families and other key community members (including service providers, senior community figures).

In addition to each country team synthesising learning across its own data, the project draws comparisons across countries for conceptual and practical learning. Through this we are developing a multidimensional understanding of inclusive participative pedagogy and its potential ECE applications.

This WS explores the burden of violence against young children (0-5) and its impact on transitioning from ECE to formalised education and on educational, health and wellbeing outcomes later in childhood, adolescence and further into adulthood.

This workstream includes:

  1. Two systematic reviews to identify studies reporting on the incidence and consequences of early childhood violence against children globally.
  2. Data analyses to explore early childhood violence–outcomes relationships particularly for education.
  3. Estimating the average lifetime cost per victim of early childhood violence and the total lifetime economic burden of early childhood violence by country (as possible), and by UNICEF and UNESCO regions.

Knowledge exchange and resource development is embedded across the project, including both capacity building within the team and sharing our learning more widely.

Main outputs currently in development include:

  • Accessible research briefings and associated audio-visual clips
  • Collaborative publication
  • Presentations at international conferences
  • A practical resource to share learning from the project with early childhood education practitioners