Unicef has urged African countries to invest in pre-primary education. (File picture: AP)

Unicef, which protects and defends the rights of every child, on Monday urged African countries to invest in early childhood learning to quicken the pace of development.

As many as 250 million children around the world are disadvantaged because they do not have access to pre-primary education and the great majority of them are in Sub Saharan Africa.

Pablo Stansbery, the Unicef regional adviser on Early Childhood Learning (ECD) said: "A lot of work and a lot of investment falls on our shoulders to advance the cause of our children."

He made his remarks during the opening of the Pre-primary Education: Expansion, Economics, and Excellence workshop attended by about 100 delegates from African countries that included Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Kenya, Lesotho, South Sudan and South Africa.

Mozambique deputy education minister, Armindo Ngunga, said his country was making strides in early childhood learning but a lot still needed to be done because only a small number were benefiting.

The conference aims to work out the cost of ECD and the benefits to countries that invest in their children's education before they get to primary school.

Less than 20 countries worldwide have three basic national policies that help guarantee the time and resources parents need to support their young children’s healthy brain development

- African News Agency (ANA)