BARACK OBAMA likes to call education “the currency for the information age”. His presidency has brought a big shift in America’s priorities, devoting more effort and resources–and an extra $2 billion–to children who have not yet started their formal schooling.
That is part of an international trend. South Korea plans to extend their early-education provision for all three- and four-year-olds this year. Turkey has ambitious plans too. Pre-school education was long neglected. “90% of the brain develops between the ages of zero to five, yet we spend 90% of our dollars on kids above the age of five,” says Timothy Knowles of the University of Chicago. That is now changing. Academic studies, including in neuroscience, have highlighted the long-term effects of experiences in a child’s early years.