This call has now closed. The following is for information only.

ESRC, on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), are pleased to invite applications focussed on Early Childhood Education in low and middle income country contexts.  

We aim to fund research that will inform Early Childhood Education (ECE) policy and practice that enables children to reach their developmental potential and gain the knowledge and skills they need for success in school. Through this call we hope to address the noted gap in research in low and middle income country contexts on this topic. 

Funding has been allocated from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is a £1.5 billion fund to support cutting-edge research which addresses the problems faced by developing countries. GCRF will address global challenges through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and will strengthen capability for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries, providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need. GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, and funds will be awarded in a manner that fits with ODA guidelines.

We aim to fund large-scale collaborative grants proposals which will each be a focal point for ECE research in their chosen area of focus, and will enable collaborative partnerships across different stakeholders and disciplines.   

Grants can be up to £2 million (100% fEC) and up to 48 months duration. 
All proposals will have to make a clear case for how they comply with Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines.

How to apply

A short ‘Intention to Submit’ should be completed by those intending to apply to this call by 16:00 on 25 March 2019.

All proposals must be submitted through the Je-S system by 16:00 (UK time) on 1 May 2019

Standard ESRC eligibility rules apply. See the Research Councils UK website for a list of eligible organisations.

Call documents

Commissioning timetable 

  • Closing date for proposals - 1 May 2019
  • Commissioning panel meeting - October 2019
  • Decision announced - November 2019
  • Grants start - 1 January 2020

Further information

For any queries, please refer to the FAQs document above in the first instance. Questions not answered in the FAQs can be emailed to

British Academy (BA) event

The British Academy (BA) is organising an event for the research community focused on early childhood on Thursday 14 March 2019 in London, where it will be possible to hear from the ESRC, MRC, DFID and the BA on their opportunities in this area. Please note that you will have to register for this event with the BA who will be publishing more details shortly. Please direct any queries to: