Asia-Pacific Conference on Early Childhood Development
‘Early Experiences Matter’
8-10 November 2011, Singapore - Officials from across the Asia-Pacific region will work together to strengthen policies and programmes for early childhood development (children 0-3 years) at a regional conference in Singapore next month.
The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Early Childhood Development (ECD), from 8-10 November 2011, will bring together officials, practitioners and experts to discuss best practices in ECD, debate the strengths and weaknesses in current approaches, and to build understanding of recent research and innovations in the area.
The conference is being organized by the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) and Singapore’s SEED Institute.
Cliff Meyers, UNICEF’s Regional Adviser for Education for East Asia and the Pacific, said the event would provide an excellent platform to exchange information and experiences on regional programmes and services for very young children and their families, with a particular emphasis on innovative strategies for reaching the most vulnerable.
Meyers said the conference would help to underline the importance of early childhood learning and experiences for very young children by exploring policies and programmes in important sectors, such as health, education and child protection. The conference will also highlight the value of partnerships with the private sector, civil society and with families and communities.
“Early childhood is a period of incredible growth in all areas of child development,” Meyers said. “Recent research, particularly in neuroscience, has shown that the first three years is a critical period when brain development occurs the most rapidly, which is directly affected by a child’s experiences, interactions and environment.”
“These experiences not only affect a child’s readiness for school, but can also influence the quality of their relationships with others and their ability to grow up to be capable citizens,” he said.
Meyers said the period from conception to three years has been relatively neglected in many countries, despite significant research and policies to support children’s development in the preschool years. The lack of data on the under-threes in the region, with available data limited mainly to health and nutrition issues, was itself a challenge that needed to be addressed to help governments develop more-informed policy.
In recent years, however, some countries in the region had increased their focus on the very early years, Meyers said.
Singapore’s Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports has, for example, recently launched an Early Years Development Framework to guide centers in applying care and holistic development practices for children aged 0-3. Globally, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) selected “Zero to Three” as its thematic topic of focus in 2011.
The 2011 conference forms part of ARNEC’s ongoing efforts in Asia and the Pacific to improve national policy in early childhood, while further expanding partnerships, peer learning and exchanges among countries.
The event builds on the 2009 Regional Policy Review Seminar, staged by ARNEC and the SEED Institute with support from UNICEF and Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Keynote speakers will include Dr Marjory Ebbeck from the University of South Australia, Dr Alexis Reyes from the University of the Philippines, and Dr Robert Myers, Founder of the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development.
UNICEF, UNESCO , Plan Asia , the Open Society Foundation and Save the Children Alliance are also supporting the conference.
For conference registration and further details, see www.arnec.net/singaporeconference2011, or contact the ARNEC Secretariat on Tel: (65) 6332 0652 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARNEC at a glance
The Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) is a network established to build strong partnerships across sectors and different disciplines, organizations, agencies and institutions in Asia and the Pacific to advance the agenda on, and investment in, early childhood. ARNEC works towards a vision in which the developmental potential of the young child is realized with the support of families, communities and states in all member countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Network covers a wide geographic area that takes in 47 countries from Central Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Islands.