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Last update: Jul 2012

Standard modules

MICS surveys have standardized modules for early childhood development:

MICS3 Birth Registration and Early Learning module
MICS3 Child Development module
MICS4 Early Childhood Development module

ECD Indicators in Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS)

Questions on attendance in organized early childhood care and education were first collected in the Birth Registration and Early Learning module during the second round of MICS (MICS2) in about 51 countries. For the third round of MICS (MICS3), conducted mainly in 2005 and 2006, early childhood development indicators were expanded to assess the quality of care in a child’s home environment in addition to access to pre-school programmes. About 40 countries that participated in MICS3 included most of the questions on early learning and child development.


The Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME)1, an inventory of a set of items designed to assess parenting practices and child environments, was used as a basis for questionnaire items that were included in the Birth Registration and Early Learning module and for the development of an optional Child Development module in MICS3. These were administered to parents or caregivers of children under the age of five (0-59 months).


ECD indicators included in MICS3 capture the availability/variety of learning materials in the home, adult and father support for learning and school readiness, non-adult care and pre-school attendance. Learning materials includes both books, and play materials defined as household objects, objects found outside (such as sticks, rocks, shells etc.), homemade toys and manufactured toys. Activities which promote learning and school readiness include: reading books to the child; telling stories to the child; singing songs to the child; taking the child outside of the home; playing with the child; and naming, counting or drawing things with the child.


MICS3 ECD Indicators:
Learning materials:

  • Percentage of children under-five who have three or more non-children’s  books.
  • Percentage of children under-five who have three or more children’s  books.
  • Percentage of children under-five with three or more materials for play.

     

    Support for learning:

  • Percentage of children under-five with whom an adult has engaged in four or more activities to promote learning and school readiness in the past 3 days.
  • Percentage of children under-five whose father has engaged in one or more activities to promote learning and school readiness in the past 3 days.

     

    Inadequate care:

  • Percentage of children under-five left alone or in the care of another child younger than 10 years of age in the past week.

     

    Pre-school attendance:

  • Percentage of children 36-59 months that attend some form of early childhood education programme.

  •  

    For the fourth round of MICS (MICS4), the early childhood development indicators have been refined and consolidated into a single Early Childhood Development module included in the questionnaire for children under-five.

     

    There have been several modifications in MICS4 to some of the ECD indicators:
    • Age group for the two indicators on support for learning (adult and father engagement) changed to children aged 36-59 months
    • Number of available playthings changed from three to two
    • Definition of inadequate care includes a time and frequency threshold

     

    This means that data on these indicators from MICS3 are not directly comparable with that from MICS4 for any given country.

     

    An important advancement in MICS4 was the creation of a 10-item Early Child Development Index (ECDI) designed to assess whether children aged 36-59 months are developmentally on-track within four domains. Items included in the ECDI are based on benchmarks that children would be expected to have reached if they are developing as the majority of children in the 36-59 months age group. The four domains are defined as follows:

     

    • Literacy-numeracy: Children are identified as being developmentally on track if they can do at least two of the following: identify/name at least ten letters of the alphabet; read at least four simple, popular words; and/or know the name and recognize the symbols of all numbers from 1 to 10. 


    • Physical: If the child can pick up a small object with two fingers, like a stick or rock from the ground, and/or the mother/caregiver does not indicate that the child is sometimes too sick to play, then the child is regarded as being developmentally on track in the physical domain.


    • Social-emotional: The child is considered developmentally on track if two of the following are true: the child gets along well with other children; the child does not kick, bite or hit other children; and the child does not get distracted easily.


    • Learning: If the child follows simple directions on how to do something correctly and/or when given something to do, is able to do it independently, then the child is considered to be developmentally on track in the learning domain.

     

    The ECDI score is then calculated as the percentage of children aged 36-59 months who are developmentally on track in at least three of these four domains. This index is best interpreted within the context of the other variables related to support for early childhood development in the home and community.

     

    MICS4 ECD Indicators:
    Learning materials:

  • Percentage of children under-five who have three or more children’s  books.
  • Percentage of children under-five with two or more playthings.

     

    Inadequate care:

  • Percentage of children under-five left alone or in the care of another child younger than 10 years of age for more than one hour at least once in the past week.

     

    Support for learning:

  • Percentage of children 36-59 months with whom an adult has engaged in four or more activities to promote learning and school readiness in the past 3 days.
  • Percentage of children 36-59 months whose father has engaged in one or more activities to promote learning and school readiness in the past 3 days.

     

    Early child development index:

  • Percentage of children 36-59 months who are developmentally on track in literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional and learning domains.

     

    Attendance at early childhood education:

  • Percentage of children 36-59 months who are attending an early childhood education programme.
  • Reference

    1. Caldwell B. M., & Bradley R. H. (1984). Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment. Little Rock: University of Arkansas at Little Rock.