Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

I greatly welcome the initiative to hold this World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education – Building the Wealth of Nations. As the first global meeting around the cause of children under seven, it is a truly landmark occasion.

It is particularly fitting that this conference should be held in Moscow, the capital of a country with a long history of pioneering efforts in developing pedagogies especially tailored to infants and young learners.

The paramount importance of the child’s early years is enshrined in the first of the six Education for All goals adopted by 164 countries in Dakar in 2000:

“Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.”

Early childhood programmes are an important means of guaranteeing the rights of young children. Today we know how crucial the early years are for improving children’s well-being and preparing them for primary school, a safe journey through education, and healthy, productive lives beyond.  Strong foundations for children are also strong foundations for building more equitable societies in which all may prosper.

Children are our most precious resource. Let us seize the opportunity this conference offers to renew and expand our commitment to a healthy, happy start for all children. By investing in the early years, we shall all be enriched.

Now is the time to build this most precious and long-lasting ‘wealth of nations’.

Irina Bokova

Back to top