Government of Romania, World Bank and UNICEF: early child education is a priority!
Bucharest, 10 April 2014. On the occasion of the Seventh World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Education Conference on ”Strengthening Early Childhood Education Systems: Investing Early to Ensure Effective Learning”, organised by the World Bank in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the Open Society Foundation, UNICEF called for increased investment in Romania and committed its support.
The conference had a very high level of participation. The Romanian Prime Minister, Mr. Victor Ponta, and the Minister of Education, Mr. Remus Pricopie, opened the event, proving a high interest in advancing early child education agenda. Ministers and policy makers from Europe and Central Asia region together with education specialists, international experts, UNICEF, Open Society Foundations and World Bank specialists discussed the importance of early childhood education in laying a strong foundation for future learning, especially for the most disadvantaged children.
Taking into account the importance of children’s earliest experiences with formal learning in setting their academic trajectory, many countries in the region are seeking to extend education systems to include younger children in ante preschool education and preschool education. In the opening speech, the Romanian Minister of Education, Mr.Remus Pricopie, expressed the intention to lower the age of children entering the compulsory education system at the age of five, making this way the last year of kindergarten compulsory.
“All the experts at the conference pointed out again that investment in early education is key to children’s development, but also for country’s development. In order to achieve this we need quality early education services that reaches out every child, especially the most vulnerable ones and that links with other local actors and stakeholders, particularly parents. UNICEF joins the Conference in calling for a greater investment in young children’s education. We welcome the clear commitment of the Government of Romania to give priority to early education”, declared Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
During the conference, best practices on improving institutional and governance frameworks, financing mechanisms, access and inclusion to early education, teacher training and measurement of school readiness to support all children to smoothly transition from preschool to primary education were presented.
In the last 20 years, UNICEF Romania provided technical assistance to the Romanian Ministry of Education in introducing the concept of early childhood education, and developing and implementing strategies and policies. UNICEF in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education, local authorities and NGOs modelled different preschools initiatives focusing on the most vulnerable children and their access to quality early childhood education. Education, including early education, is one of the priorities of the 2013-2017 partnership agreement between the Government of Romania and UNICEF.
UNICEF is on the ground in Romania and other 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. In Romania, UNICEF works with the Government, the Parliament, local authorities, the civil society, the private sector, national and international partners and the media to provide all children and adolescents with access to quality care and education, to protect them from violence and ensure that they grow up in a family environment, to monitor child rights and leverage resources for children. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.