The brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of a child’s life. Yet, worldwide, 250 million children are not reaching their potential during these years. In 2015, an estimated six million children died before reaching age five, mostly as a result of diseases that are readily and affordably preventable and treatable. In developing countries, hundreds of millions of children do not have access to pre-school; they live in areas affected by armed conflict and climate-related disasters; and their growth is stunted, which harms their brain development.

The Aga Khan Foundation works to ensure that girls and boys have a good start in life by influencing the environments in which they are growing. Globally, our Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives provide 750,000 children ages 0 to 8 years with nurturing, relevant, and quality learning opportunities at costs that are affordable for governments, families, and communities.

Our goals

A Kenyan woman holds two babies in a classroom.

Improved access to quality services

Making it easier for families to access the best care, backed by the latest research

a grandfather and granddaughter sit with a teacher showing them a book.

Enhanced family and community support

Strengthening existing networks to ensure children and communities are well resourced and supported

Children wave from the doorway of their traditional-style Kyrgyz classroom building.

Strengthened human resources and institutions

Building child-friendly infrastructure and ensuring up-to-date training for educators and caregivers

Our impact


children (ages 0 to 6) benefit from AKF’s early childhood programs


teachers, health workers, and facilitators benefit from AKF’s early childhood programs


people who have completed AKDN’s Science of ECD course

Focus Areas

Focus Areas