The Santiago Declaration


The education of young children has become an international priority. Science offers irrefutable evidence that high-quality early childhood education better prepares children for the transition to formal education. It helps each child reach his or her potential in reading, mathematics, and social skills. Around the world, there is renewed interest in investing in young children to prepare them for future participation in a global economy. This interest is manifest not only in governmental policies (from Japan to the United States to Chile) but also in popular culture through the media and commercial endeavors marketing educational products to the parents of young children. As internationally recognized scientists in child development, we applaud the attention now directed to the world’s youngest citizens, but we also urge that policies, standards, curricula, and to the extent possible, commercial ventures be based on the best scientific research and be sensitive to evidence-based practice. We also recognize the limitations of our own scientific disciplines. Our research can provide guides in designing the most efficient means to a policy ends, but cannot dictate those ends, which must arise out of political debate and social consensus. Our research can also be abused in attempts to rationalize pre-conceived policies and popular notions about early childhood, putting science to a rhetorical and selective, rather than rational use. For our part, we pledge to actively oppose this practice and to speak out whenever it occurs.

We assert that the following principles enjoy general and collective consensus among developmental scientists in 2007:

We, the undersigned, recognize that the political agenda and marketplace forces often proceed without meaningful input from the science of child development. Given the manifest needs of many young children throughout the world, the current state of knowledge and consensus in developmental science, this gap between knowledge and action must be closed. Scientific data and evidence-based practice must be integral to the ongoing global dialogue.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Professor, Temple University)
John Bruer (President, McDonnell Foundation)
Patricia Kuhl (Professor, University of Washington)
Susan Goldin-Meadow (Professor, University of Chicago)
Elsbeth Stern (Senior Scientist, ETH Zurich Institute for Behavioral Sciences)
Nuria Sebastian Galles (Professor, University de Barcelona)
Albert Galaburda (Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston)
Marcella Pena (Professor, Catholic University of Chile)
Laura Martignon (Professor, University of Education, Ludwigsburg)
Ruth Campbell (Professor, University College London)
Gerd Gigerenzer (Professor, Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
Albert Rizzo (Research Scientist and Professor, University of Southern California)
Elke Kurz-Milcke (Senior Researcher, Padagogische Hochschute Ludwigsburg)
Bert De Smedt (University of Leuven, Belgium)
Manuel Carreiras (Universidad de la Laguna, España)

(View All Signatories)