Regional Experts Meeting in Innovation in Early Childhood Care and Education

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Every interaction children have from birth can impact their holistic development. This knowledge has caused a fundamental rethink of the way we approach learning, giving rise to an increased focus on early childhood care and education (ECCE). ECCE is now recognized worldwide as an important pathway to inclusiveness and social equity in education.

However, this crucial aspect of a child’s development is too often relegated to the bottom of countries’ lists of educational priorities – the Education for All goal to promote ECCE, for example, was one of the most neglected of the EFA targets.

Given this context of competing priorities and budget constraints, innovation becomes essential. To that end, UNESCO Bangkok launched the “Innovations for improving the equity and quality of early childhood care and education in Asia and the Pacific” project earlier this year. The project aims to improve and the equity and quality of ECCE by strengthening political commitment to these two ends and providing pre-primary teachers as well as teacher educators with ideas to integrate effective and innovative ECCE teaching practices into their work.

As part of the project, UNESCO Bangkok co-organized the “Regional Experts Meeting for the Documentation of Innovative and Effective Pedagogical Approaches and Tools in Early Childhood Care and Education” on 26-27 August in Bangkok, Thailand.

The meeting brought together experts from the region and partners from the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) and Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA), the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) and the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) to develop the conceptual framework and criteria to document innovative ECCE practices. During the meeting, three innovative cases from China, Japan and Republic of Korea were presented.

The criteria set by the experts include innovative practices that are inclusive, child-centered, participatory, available to all children in a non-discriminatory manner and that support children’s holistic development.

With the conceptual framework and criteria in place, the next step will be an open call for submissions from educators, ECCE practitioners and specialists in the region to share their innovative practices. Those that best exemplify the experts’ criteria will be selected and documented to serve as the basis for an online guidebook for ECCE practitioners on integrating innovative pedagogies into pre-primary teaching and learning. Collected practices will also be showcased to policy-makers at the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in May, 2016.

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