Colin Powell is an iconic American statesman who has served Democratic and Republican administrations in the highest military and diplomatic posts. The history-making former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State also knows that a child’s education begins long before he or she sets foot inside a kindergarten classroom.

In a 2012 TED Talk, Secretary Powell makes the case for the need to support young children and their families early on with quality early childhood education.

“I’m working at all the energy I have to sort of communicate this message that we need preschool, we need Head Start, we need prenatal care. The education process begins even before the child is born.”

Watch a snippet of Secretary Powell’s TED Talk below. You can also view the Talk in its entirety or read the transcript online here.