The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has announced an investment of AED 6.65 million in 14 research grants aimed at enhancing early childhood development (ECD) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

These grants are focused on generating actionable evidence to inform ECD programmes and policies across the Emirate while advancing the science of ECD in a culturally relevant manner.

The research projects will be conducted by six UAE universities: New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates University, Mohamed Bin Rashid School of Government, University of Sharjah, Emirates College for Advanced Education, and University of Birmingham – Dubai. The objective of these projects is to make a significant impact on the development of evidence-based programmes and policies for young children and their families in Abu Dhabi.

The grants will support a range of diverse research projects aimed at understanding the impact of habits on the health and nutrition of young children, evaluating the needs of the early childhood development workforce, and gaining a better understanding of the influence of fathers on the development of young children. Ultimately, these initiatives will contribute to the advancement of the science of ECD in Abu Dhabi.

In this regard, Dr. Yousef Al Hammadi, Executive Director – Knowledge and Impact at ECA, said, “We are committed to advancing the field of early childhood development in Abu Dhabi through ECD research which informs policy and practice.”

In his remarks, he affirmed that “the funding of these grants underscores the UAE government’s commitment to ECD research. Our goal is to support a high-quality ECD research ecosystem which produces contextually relevant research that is used in decision making by policymakers, practitioners, parents, and all who influence the lives of young children in Abu Dhabi towards future social and economic prosperity”.

In addition to the research grants funded through this call for proposals, ECA is funding a series of studies over three years that will serve to amplify children's voices in ECD research, focusing on obtaining assent from young children to participate in research and ensuring their perspectives are heard and valued.

In this context, Hamda Al Suwaidi, Head of Research at ECA, said, “We believe that children's perspectives are essential to research and policymaking, and this groundbreaking project will help amplify their voices and ensure that they feel safe and are protected when participating in ECD research studies.”