On Tuesday, the 21st of May 2019, the Ministry of National Education, Step by Step Centre for Education and Professional Development, Aspen Institute Romania, ReadyNation Romania and UNICEF in Romania organised the 4th edition of the Conference “The First 1000 Days for the Next 100 Years” at the National Bank of Romania, to promote early education. This year's topic was “Early Childhood Education and Professionals of the Future”.
"The Romanian Government welcomes any initiative aimed at supporting the development of the early education system. Through the Governance Program, we have undertaken to invest in education and to ensure that all Romanian children have access to education from younger age and decent living conditions. As the title of this year's conference, the early education prepares the tomorrow's professionals ", Viorica Dăncilă, the Prime Minister of Romania, conveyed to the conference participants through the State Counsellor Daniela Gabriela Coţa.
The Conference facilitated the dialogue between institutional decision makers, experts and representatives of the business sector, to exchange best practices and identify means to advance investment in early education, given the need to prepare the young for the challenges that the labour market will present in short, medium and long term.
"Children going to nurseries and kindergartens now will have jobs that have not yet been invented, but we know for sure that employers are looking for professionals who know how to communicate, work in teams, solve conflicts, adapt, find solutions. The basics of all these abilities are developed through early education. That is why we need to invest strategically in early education and childcare, and we must constantly communicate about the importance of the first 1,000 days of children's lives", said Ionel Florian Lixandru, Secretary of State, Ministry of National Education.
“According to international studies and Romanian experience, financing quality early education is a strategic investment with exceptional returns on the long term. To this aim, the partnership between national, county and local authorities, businesses, not-for-profit organisations, professionals and parents is crucial for giving each child, and more so to vulnerable ones, the chance for a better future. The abilities developed in early childhood are essential for school and, later on, for the labour market performance”, said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
“Involving the private sector in promoting early education is critical. With the human and physical resources available to them, entrepreneurs have the power to contribute in projects aimed at modernising the Romanian education system, so that, in years to come, we might be proud of having supported Romania’s progress and opened the road to success for the new generations”, stated Radu Enache, President of ReadyNation Romania.
The debates aimed also at identifying shared priorities that may provide all children with equal opportunities to achieve their real potential in society.
“The crucial importance of the first 1000 days in the life of children is a scientific fact and I am happy that more and more people, including decision makers, understand this. The time has come to act, to do all in our power to make sure that the new generations have better chances for the future. By investing in early education, we can make sure that these children will achieve their true potential and acquire the skills and abilities they need to be successful in both personal and professional life, declared Carmen Lica, Director CEDP Step by Step.
With the aim of contributing to the development of early education policies and to the improvement of their national, county and local implementation framework, the Ministry of National Education in partnership with Step by Step Centre for Education and Professional Development and UNICEF in Romania is implementing the Project “Romania Grows with You - Early Education, an Investment in the Future”.
Twenty-two communities from Bacău and Brașov Counties and one District of Bucharest will be supported in the Project by several teams of experts (education, healthcare, social protection, NGOs, religious cults, business) to develop early childhood strategies adapted to each individual community.
“Wherever implemented, early education proved to be a successful model, generating the greatest economic and social benefits in time by playing a key role in training the future workforce. Investing in pre-school education (on the model of the Nordic countries) develops children’s skills at the age when most of the neural structures are formed. To grant children access to quality inclusive education and to develop innovative early education services, the public and business sectors must work together”, believes Mircea Geoană, President of the Aspen Institute Romania.
About STEP BY STEP
The centre for Professional Education and Development (CEDP) is a non-governmental organisation that develops education programmes. Since 1994, CEDP has been known as a promoter of the Step by Step educational alternative that is implemented in crèches, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools from 40 Counties of Romania. In 2000, CEDP set up the first private kindergarten based on the Step by Step educational alternative, the Bambi Kindergarten, and in 2012, the Step by Step school, the first private school to use the Step by Step method. Since 2007, CEDP has been promoting the most innovative complementary education programme, FasTracKids.
About ReadyNation RO
ReadyNation RO (RNRo) is an organisation formed by a group of professionals, business leaders and NGOs concerned about the Romanian education system, economic future and building a culture where each child potential is realised. Affiliated to ReadyNation International, ReadyNation RO (RNRo) brings together business people who believe in the benefits of early education, for the prosperity of their businesses and of Romania, by investing in the future workforce.
About the Aspen Institute of Romania
The Aspen Institute of Romania (IAR) is a non-profit, non-governmental association dedicated to promoting leadership in Romania and its region, which encourages open and informed debates among political, institutional and non-governmental leaders about the challenges our societies face today. Aspen Romania's mission is to encourage value-based leadership, to support individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a better society, while providing a neutral and balanced place to discuss, analyse and act on the critical issues affecting the Romanian society and the one in the region.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.