ECCE: The wealth of the nation
KUALA LUMPUR, 2 November 2011 – The finest minds and leading experts in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), both in the country and the region, gathered at the first National ECCE Conference to present new findings, share best practices, and discuss ways forward to advance ECCE for children in Malaysia.
Themed “Early Childhood Care and Education: The Wealth of the Nation”, the three-day conference, co-organised by ECCE Council Malaysia and UNICEF Malaysia, aims to establish ECCE as the fundamental right of all children, and a prerequisite to the wellbeing and wealth of the nation.
In a statement read on behalf of YB Senator Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development stressed, “Indeed it cannot be overstated that children are our most valuable asset and our ticket for a better future. If the wealth of a nation is reflected by its people, it is only wise that we make investments on our future human capital. We must care, nurture and educate our young to become responsible adults. We must instil good values in them so that they grow up with confidence. More importantly, we must not rob them of their childhood for every child must be given the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential.”
A grand alliance
Attended by childcare and education providers and professionals, academicians, NGOs, government agencies and other stakeholders involved in ECCE, the conference also serves to strengthen collaboration for quality ECCE; an effort punctuated by its subtheme “Investment in Early Childhood – A Multi-sectoral Effort”.
“A ‘Grand Alliance’ between agencies is what we need, with the best interests of all children at its very core, to ensure that we have a strong foundation to push this ECCE agenda forward,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Mr Hans Olsen, in his welcome address. “Everyone at each level of this alliance plays a key role – our responsibilities are to identify all social and environmental challenges and to ensure that these children are always in the forefront of development programs.”
Mr Olsen’s sentiments were echoed by Professor Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, President of ECCE Council Malaysia, who said, ““Every child has the right to development to his or her fullest extent. When the government, parents, businesses and society spend money on Early Childhood Care and Education, it is not a financial burden. It is an investment.”
Education for all
In the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), two initiatives were identified in the education area that can raise the Gross National Income (GNI) of the country. They are The Ramping Up of Early Child Care and Education (EPP1) and The Scaling Up of ECCE Training Centres (EPP2). By the year 2020, EPP1 is projected to generate an incremental GNI of RM 3.75 billion (USD 1.2 billion), while EPP2 is projected to generate an incremental GNI of RM 0.3 billion (USD 0.1 billion).
The outcome of the Conference will make it possible for all stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Department of Social Welfare (JKM), to assess the current status of ECCE and provide a roadmap for Malaysia to achieve the Education For All (EFA) Goal 1 which is expanding and improving comprehensive ECCE, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, by 2015...............................................................................................
NOTE TO EDITORS
National Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Conference 2011
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Indra Kumari Nadchatram