The MELQO initiative began in 2014 in anticipation of a new global emphasis on early childhood development (ECD).

Led by UNESCO, the World Bank, the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution and UNICEF, the initiative aims to promote feasible, accurate and useful measurement of children’s development and learning at the start of primary school, and of the quality of their pre-primary learning environments. Items are designed for children between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Following the premise that many existing tools include similar items, the leading organizations’ core team worked with a consortium of experts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multilaterals to build upon current measurement tools to create a common set of items organized into modules for measuring: 1) early childhood development and learning, and 2) the quality of pre-primary learning environments. The MELQO core team and experts also collaborated to outline a process for context-specific adaptation of the measurement modules resulting from lessons learned from field-testing in several countries in 2015 and 2016.

Support for MELQO came from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dubai Cares, the Government of Norway, Omidyar Network, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Special thanks to Carmela Salzano and Janne Kjaersgaard for their contribution to the MELQO Evaluation, through the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

MELQO’s modules and report do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official policies of these institutions. The organizations also recognize that the value they provide is in their absolute commitment to quality, independence, and impact. Activities supported by these donors reflect this commitment and the analysis and recommendations are not determined or influenced by any donation.


The Brookings Institution previously led MELQO’s governance. Information can be found here.

A series of MELQO meetings were held as part of the project. MELQO’s first meeting on quality measurement was hosted in partnership with International Step by Step Association (ISSA), and the Bernard van Leer Foundation, in Leiden, Netherlands, in 2014. UNESCO and UNICEF hosted a workshop on MELQO in July, 2016, in Dakar, Senegal.

 The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation published this formative evaluation report, outlining lessons learned within the first year of MELQO.

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