The Switzerland-wide READY! campaign brings together all of the institutions that are involved in early childhood in Switzerland. The coalition includes experts in early childhood, academic institutions, representatives of civil society, policymakers and members of the business community. The group’s second meeting, held on March 23, 2018, was devoted to promoting dialogue, finding a common voice and discussing the coalition’s next steps.
Early childhood is a crucial developmental stage. Since this is the time when the groundwork is laid for cognitive, social and emotional skills, investments in this period produce the greatest long-term societal impact and higher educational returns. Targeted programs for families and children in disadvantaged circumstances are a major step toward ensuring fair opportunities for all. The READY! campaign consistently focuses on the well-being and optimal development of children.
Socio-economic groups are drifting further and further apart
Speaking at the meeting, Hannes Schwandt, assistant professor of economics at the University of Zurich, presented the economic perspective. He described the social dynamics that account for the number of children in different socio-economic groups. Because disadvantaged children lack equal opportunities, these groups are drifting further and further apart – leading to higher costs for health care and social services, and even to various forms of radicalization and populism.
Accordingly, investments in early childhood are not merely a matter of ensuring that children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds have access to fair opportunities. They are also about social cohesion: In addition to providing more opportunities for disadvantaged children, such investments lower the (opportunity and investment) costs of childbearing for more highly educated individuals – for example by enabling them to work part-time or on a flexible basis.
Investments in early childhood are socially smart
As READY! ambassador and well-known professor of microeconomics Ernst Fehr observes, “Investments in early childhood are among the best things a society can do.” Heidi Simoni, who is also a READY! ambassador as well as the director of the Marie Meierhofer Institute for the Child, appeals to intergenerational solidarity: “Investments in early childhood are socially prudent and worthwhile from every perspective. They are in keeping with the responsibility the older generation has toward our country’s young people.”
The READY! coalition is advocating for a comprehensive early childhood policy, with the goal of ensuring that Switzerland’s children are as well prepared as possible to meet the social and economic challenges of the future. It attaches particular importance to cooperation among all concerned, across various sectors and institutions, as well as to high-quality child care programs and the professionalization of personnel and institutions.
Do you want the voice of your early childhood institution in Switzerland to be heard? Please register – on a no-obligation basis – at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals wishing to offer their support may sign the READY! Charter digitally.