UNICEF league table, 2008
• UNICEF Report Card No.8, 2008
• 25 OECD countries
• 10 ‘minimum standards’ for early childhood education
and care
• Ireland came joint bottom of the league table – only 1
out of 10 standards
• Some recent improvements, but Ireland still performs
poorly by international standards
10 ‘minimum standards’ (2008)
Ireland
National plan
NZ
Finland
Sweden
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1 year paid parental leave
Subsidised services for 25% of under-3s

Subsidised services for 80% of 4 yr olds

80% of staff (incl childminders) trained

50% of early ed centre staff graduates
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1% GDP
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Child poverty less than 10%
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Universal early child health outcomes

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8
10
Min ratio of 1:15
Number of benchmarks achieved
1
6
What Ireland can learn from Finland
Or what Olli Rehn didn’t tell us...
• Finland’s financial crisis in the early 1990s saw the
Finnish Government spend billions on rescuing the
banks, unemployment reached 20%, asset prices halved,
and real GDP dropped 14%...
• BUT in spite of this – Finland’s expenditure on ECCE
(and on education) is among the highest in the world
• And the results are impressive - in ‘PISA’ assessments of
education outcomes for 15 year-olds, Finland is the
highest-scoring country in the OECD
Of course there are many factors
But the quality of care and education services for young
children in Finland is a key reason
• Formal school only begins at 7 in Finland !
• Before that age, there is a well-developed system of
high quality early care and education services, with a
holistic, play-based curriculum framework
• Finland (0.9% GDP) invests much more than Ireland
(0.3% GDP) in early childhood services
Some indicators from UNESCO report for
September 2010 World Conference on ECCE
Finland
Ireland
5.3 million
4.4 million
GDP per capita (US$)
51,000
60,000
% GDP on early childhood services
0.9 %
0.3 %
9 months
6 months
From 9 months
From 3 yrs 2 mths
Graduate
None
7%
29 %
Unitary system
Split system
Total population
Paid leave (maternity + parental)
Entitlement to an ECCE place
Minimum qualification for lead
educators for 0-3 year olds
Childcare cost to family with 2
children aged 0-3, % of net income
Care / Education in government
Child outcome indicators
PISA score – educational
outcomes for 15 year olds
(OECD average = 498)
% of children living in
households in poverty
Finland
Ireland
553 (highest in OECD)
509
4%
16 %
The lesson from Finland
• Even in the middle of an economic crisis, we should be
ambitious.
• That is why our Children 2020 report contains both:
– A long-term vision for the direction we want to take
over the next decade and more, and
– Recommendations for actions that can be taken right
now, at no cost.