Hawaii, United States of America
Update from the World Forum on Early Care and Education 2011
Last week we took part in the World Forum on Early Care and Education 2011 in Hawaii, USA and we would like to share with our members our thoughts and experiences. The mission of the World Forum Foundation is to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings. This mission is accomplished through convening gatherings of early childhood professionals around the world and by promoting the continuing exchange of ideas among participants. The World Forum on Early Care and Education is held every two years and this year, 825 participants from 73 nations gathered in Honolulu to share ideas on a wide range of issues impacting the delivery of quality services for children and families.
There are also 14 individuals from the Arab region who are representing the Global Leaders for Young Children project which is a very successful initiative to develop the next generation of champions for children. The World Forum Foundation have this year launched a regional version of this, the Global Leaders for the Arab Region (GLAR). The 14 individuals from the Arab Region taking part in this project are broken down into the following: 2 from Jordan, 4 from Lebanon, 1 from KSA, 3 from Oman and 4 from the UAE. These global leaders from the Arab Region will be working on campaigns in their respective countries to raise awareness for the importance of early childhood education. Global leaders are also child advocates and change agents for quality early childhood development in their communities, countries and region.
A glance at Early Childhood Education around the world:
We heard from Sakeena Yacoobi who is part of the Architects of Peace Foundation and is also the founder of the Afghan Institute for Learning. She is an incredible woman with so much passion for the importance of education for young children. Without any resources (no buildings, no books) she created early childhood programs for children in the refugee camps of Afghanistan. Even without buildings or books, Sakeena says "it doesn't matter, we give them loving words. One day they will change our country". Sakeena continues to work tirelessly to improve the standard of education for not only the children of Afghanistan, but she has also provided training for over 350,000 Afghani mothers. She believes that we can break the cycle of poverty through early childhood Education and that when children are educated, they don't want to fight, they instead create a safe environment for themselves. We are truly impressed by her knowledge and passion for education.
They are focusing on early childhood education and have established a coordinated body for the oversight of early childhood development. They are making amazing progress for early childhood development by getting fathers, mothers and grandparents involved.
Sri Lanka and Nepal:
They have established a new governing body specifically for early childhood education. They currently serve 75,000 children in early childhood centers.
Left: Martha Llanos, Peace Ambassador, Peru. Centre: Michael Kelly, Expert on Aids/HIV, Zambia. Right: Sakeena Yacoobi, Architects for Peace Foundation, Afghanistan.
Many children are suffering from HIV and Aids, and only 1/3 of the children who need medication actually receive it. We heard from Michael Kelly who is an internationally renowned expert on AIDS, and is full of admiration for people infected by HIV. Based in Zambia, he travels the world over to lobby for their rights, focusing his efforts on addressing AIDS through education. He says that even more dangerous than the disease is the stigma that comes with the disease, the children are suffering from this stigma emotionally. And this is a great threat to their future.
They have initiated a National Play Day, where all governments and schools are on holiday to raise awareness of the importance of playing with children. All park access is free and the country is full of events. This is all to raise awareness for the importance of play in early childhood.
They are making great progress and their government is focusing on early childhood education. They now have 27 colleges offering degrees in Education.
Other highlighted topics from the World Forum on Early Care and Education:
- The role of men in early childhood: "men need women, women need men, CHILDREN need BOTH""
- Involving parents and teachers in national policies for early childhood: those that are affected by the issue need to be involved in the decision making process of the solution. This means that parents and teachers, must be involved in the decision making process for policies that concern them.
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We really enjoyed our time at the World Forum and hope that you join us at the next World Forum in 2013.