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Towards the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education: Transforming education starts in the early years

Towards the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education

On 30 June 2022, UNESCO convened 27 Ministers of Education and 9 executives of international organizations for a private working lunch meeting during the Transforming Education Pre-Summit at the Organization’s headquarters. The meeting had a clear goal: to position young children at the center of political engagement with the 2030 education agenda. To make this a reality, global cooperation is needed to improve care and education in the early years everywhere.

Organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan and The LEGO Foundation, the ministerial discussion focused on how to carry strong insights and commitments on Early Childhood Care and Education in the two major upcoming events this year: The Transforming Education Summit (TES) in New York in September  and the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in November.

Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, opened the meeting with a bold statement demonstrating that investing in the early years is investing in “eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, ending hunger, ensuring healthy lives, and promoting peaceful societies.” The first 1000 days of life are critically important to unlock the potential of each child, yet insufficient budgetary allocations to ECCE are leaving children behind, preventing their healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development.

The Ministers of Education shared their achievements, ambitions, and challenges to move forward ECCE at the country level. The discussion was organized around the WCECCE four priorities areas in correlation with the TES action tracks, which include access to quality inclusive programmes, financing, teaching and learning, and innovation & transformation of the Early childhood agenda. During the four round tables, ministers shared powerful messages referring to concrete examples from their respective countries. In addition, they have expressed their commitment to raising awareness on Early Childhood during the TES, creating a group of champion countries around Early Childhood, and participating in the World Conference.

Ms Shakhnoza Mirziyoeva, advisor to the Ministry of Preschool Education of Uzbekistan stated that: “ a play-based, inclusive, child-centered approach should be integrated into pedagogical practice under three pillars of quality, equality and access.” These experiences will be shared widely during the WCECCE, which “will provide an opportunity to set the agenda for pre-school education for the next 10 years,” as announced by Ms Agrippina Shin, Uzbekistan Minister of Pre-school Education by way of the “Tashkent Framework for Action.”

The ministerial meeting concluded by outlining next steps towards the WCECCE and TES. Mr Borhene Chakroun, Director of Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems at UNESCO, urged to make a “bridge between ECCE, TES, and the World Conference” to ensure that early childhood is “inscribed into the dialogue” of all five TES action tracks: schools, learning, teaching, digital transformation, and financing.

Participating Ministers, international organizations and civil society representatives agreed to collectively work with UNESCO to further discuss the ECCE agenda during the conference. Member states will take the lead in defining the Framework for Action and the conference will aim to galvanize political support for ECCE. As highlighted by Ms Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer of The LEGO Foundation, we must “establish a global coalition to make sure we are investing in the first 1000 days and to identify what children need to develop, thrive and learn.”

For additional information, please contact the UNESCO Secretariat in charge of the Conference at the following email address: wcecce@unesco.org