Existing UNESCO Projects on Early Childhood in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2012-2013 Two-Year Period

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Latin American and Caribbean countries have highlighted the priority of developing policies and plans for early childhood care and education (ECCE), and children are more widely recognised as individuals with rights. Significant progress has been made in terms of children´s survival and health conditions; children over the age of three have greater access to education regardless of gender; curricula are being developed for said stage; and criteria are being established for assessing and regulating the quality of these programmes.

Significant challenges remain and must be overcome in order to achieve the first objective of Education for All, which is to extend and improve comprehensive protection and education during early childhood, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Major inequalities exist among and within countries in access to programmes and services based on socio-economic origins, place of residence and cultural context. Therefore, it is necessary to provide greater support to countries in terms of equity and quality, services to children under the age of three, inclusion and attention to diversity, teacher training and development of cross-sectorial policies.

For the two-year period of 2012-2013, the following projects are being implemented in the region:

UNESCO San Jose

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Advisory services for ministries of education on expanding ECCE programmes, focusing on the most vulnerable communities

The project involves:

  1. Developing a set of standards and conditions needed for ECCE in rural and disadvantaged communities in Central America;
  2. Developing and producing educational materials;
  3. Drawing up a proposal to implement ECCE programmes in existing communal spaces;
  4. Follow-up and assessment;
  5. Implementation over a two-year period in conjunction with local partners and under the supervision of the ministries of education;
  6. Beneficiaries: teachers, parents, and pre-school children.

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UNESCO Montevideo

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To move towards high-quality education in MERCOSUR from early childhood

The education department of the Oficina Multipaís (Multi-country Office) for MERCOSUR supports official MERCOSUR Educativo (Educational MERCOSUR) meetings, aimed at strengthening national and sub-regional commitments to increase awareness of and action on ECCE issues.

This sub-regional activity is complemented by the Programa Punto (Point Programme), which was developed to provide a flexible platform for promoting education among public and private players in the field of ECCE. It is aimed at expanding and diversifying coverage in early childhood care and education by coordinating with the players involved (ministries of education, selected NGOs, municipal authorities) within each country.

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UNESCO Havana

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Strengthening comprehensive cross-sectorial early childhood care

Since ECCE is a priority for Dominican Republic, the CONANI (Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, the National Council for Childhood and Adolescence) has commissioned a study of the different existing strategies and the best policies for children in this age group.

In Cuba, the comprehensive model for early childhood care Educa a tu hijo (Raising Your Child) has been implemented successfully. Over recent two-year periods, teachers have been trained and work has been done with rural communities to implement this option for non-institutional early childhood care.

In both countries, UNESCO’s work will focus on training teachers and on systematising and disseminating best practices. The main activities are:

Cuba: A national workshop for discussing strategies and experiences in comprehensive, cross-sectorial care for early childhood.

Dominican Republic: Training key players in informal education and developing a comprehensive approach to ECCE.

Direct beneficiaries: ECCE teachers in Cuba and Dominican Republic.

Indirect beneficiaries: Children in ECCE age groups in Cuba and Dominican Republic.

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