Improving School Readiness in the Sahel : The Role of Adaptive Social Protection Programmes

The Sahel has some of the lowest levels of human capital worldwide, with children's future productivity and earning potential being on average sixty-five percent below their potential due to poor health and education outcomes. Early childhood, especially the first five years of life, is a critical period for cognitive, social, emotional, and motor development. Adverse events during this period can have long-lasting impacts on human capital formation. According to a growing body of evidence, school readiness - defined as children having the skills and wellbeing to thrive academically - is essential for academic success and is linked to better educational outcomes, employment, and earnings. However, almost ninety percent of the population of 10-year-old children in the Sahel do not have an age-appropriate level of reading comprehension. This document discusses the importance of integrating school readiness measures into social protection programs to improve educational outcomes and strengthen human capital in the Sahel. It outlines the theoretical framework for school readiness, assesses the impact of school readiness interventions, details evidence-based measures, and concludes with safety net program recommendations and implementation guidance specific to the Sahel context.