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Pacific focus on early childhood development

© UNICEF Vanuatu

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 28 June 2010 – Papua New Guinea is hosting the Pacific Early Childhood Development Policy seminar next week from 28-30 June 2010 to assess and review national Early Childhood Development (ECD) policies and early development standards, as well as initiate regional partnerships to improve care and development for young children in the Pacific. The seminar will bring together regional experts and participants from Palau, Philippines, Singapore, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Australia, Timor, Thailand. The seminar brings together government officials and ECD experts from universities, local NGOs and UN agencies from the Pacific.

The seminar is organized by the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC ) and hosted by the Government of Papua New Guinea through the Department of Community Development with support from international agencies such as UNICEF and UNESCO.

For the host country, Papua New Guinea, the seminar comes closely after the recent first ever national forum meeting on ECD this month in Goroka. The Goroka consultation meeting brought together leading academicians, civil society partners along with the Government to create renewed recognition on the importance of early years in the formation of a person’s intelligence, personality, social behavior and physical development. The meeting was sponsored by The National Department of Community Development and UNICEF with support from University of Goroka , National Department of Education and the National Department of Health.

This regional policy seminar next week from 28-30 June will serve as a platform for participating countries to share specific aspects of their policy work, and to also gain feedback and insights from other countries and ECD experts on several aspects of evidence-based policy development and implementation. In major breakthrough, Education Ministers meeting held in 2007, Pacific countries endorsed and affirmed their commitments to develop a national policy for children aged 0-8 years by 2010 paving way for attention to this underserved issue.

In particular, the seminar aims to tackle prevalent issues in the Pacific such as the inclusion of most vulnerable children in policies, provision of ECD programs for children under three (which too few countries in the Pacific address), and strengthen coordination through networks to ensure that holistic national policies are developed between ministries and various actors. To address this concern, the seminar will orient participants on emergency preparedness planning to include the needs of young children in the Pacific, a region prone to natural emergencies.

The project, led by ARNEC (Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood) in partnership with Macquarie University and UNICEF Asia Pacific Shared Service Centre, aims to develop guidelines for sites to assess needs and specific plans for emergency preparedness and response. Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Timor Leste and the Philippines were selected as the pilot sites for this research initiative.

The seminar next week comes three years after a regional early childhood care and education (ECCE) workshop held in the Solomon Islands in March 2007, which first examined developing national policies to include care and education for young children from birth to eight year olds so that they are well prepared to enter the formal school system. The workshop was co-hosted by seven agencies – the Government of Solomon Islands, PREL, PRIDE, PIFS, UNESCO, UNICEF and SPBEA.

Since then, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have both incorporated early childhood education officially within their definition of basic education. The region has taken great strides in early childhood at policy levels and several countries have developed national policies for early childhood development and education, initiated standards and regulations, and capacity building activities to improve teacher’s quality.


Media Contacts: Ms. Kanitha Kongrukgreatiyos Communication Officer, ARNEC +65 6332 0653





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