Conference calls for new commitment to early childhood care and education
The Vice-President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, called on governments around the world to strengthen their commitment to early childhood care and education, reminding them that “this task starts with us”. Vice-President Faure’s remarks came at the close of the first World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Moscow today.
The conference, which began on 27 September, brought together government ministers from 65 countries, along with representatives from UN agencies, development cooperation agencies, civil society and experts to asses progress towards the goal of expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education (ECCE), especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
“Early childhood care and education programmes yield greater investment returns than any other level of education,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said at the opening of the conference. “This is probably one of the least publicized facts in the policy-making and development arena.”
The Director-General also stressed the importance of early childhood programmes in addressing inequalities, providing “a starting point for leveling the playing field.” “The number of children missing out primary school - 69 million - could be reduced if they were reached through adequate programmes before age 8. So could the number of children who drop out of school too early.”
The conference participants adopted the Moscow Framework of Action, which outlines a number of challenges that must be tackled to achieve ECCE goals. These include a lack of political commitment, inadequate public funding, low external support and effective delivery of services. Poverty and cultural barriers in many parts of the world, including in occupied territories and conflict and disaster affected areas, also deny access to ECCE for millions of children.
The participants called on countries to work with UNESCO to mobilize international donors to increase financial support for ECCE. The Organization was specifically requested to reinforce its efforts to promote and develop Early Childhood Care and Education.
Closing the conference, Vice-President Faure requested that UNESCO also lead the completion of “the Holistic Child Development Index” to allow countries to follow progress towards ECCE and lay the ground for a major review to be carried out in 2015.
“No child should be left behind,” said Danny Faure. “By fulfilling the rights of all young children and by nurturing their potential and well-being, we are building the wealth of nations.”