Taking SDG 4.2 from Policy to Action: Nepal hosts 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

Taking SDG 4.2 from Policy to Action: Nepal hosts 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

BANGKOK, 30 May 2018 – On the very first day of school, a child could already face serious, even insurmountable, challenges to access quality education. As the 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and 2018 Asia-Pacific Regional Early Childhood Development (ECD) Conference opens in Kathmandu on 5 June 2018, there is a growing understanding that a multi-sectoral approach is essential to level the playing field for children, even prior to their enrolment in primary school.

The concept of ‘school readiness’ is a critical element of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 4.2 – ‘By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.’ When children are not ready for school by the primary entry age, the long-term negative impacts on developmental outcomes, particularly for the most vulnerable children, are well-documented.

There are well-established theories and research evidence highlighting the critical importance of early childhood development, yet 250 million children younger than 5 years of age in low and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their potential due to stunting, poverty and disadvantage. That potential encompasses cognitive, emotional, social and physical welfare. This calls for urgent action to increase coverage of multi-sectoral quality ECCE programmes that incorporate health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving and early learning.

Under the framework of SDG 4.2, each country’s Ministry of Education (MOE) is required to play a pivotal role in a multi-sectoral approach implementing and monitoring quality ECCE programmes by reaching out to other ministries and agencies responsible for ECD and coordinating their efforts. This holistic, multi-sectoral approach to ECCE is actually a fundamental interest of each Ministry of Education responsible for educational outcomes of children enrolled in the school system, because ECCE participation is significantly linked to cognitive development and school readiness from birth to the age of 8.

As the host of the ECCE policy forum and ECD conference, Nepal is well-prepared to adopt this holistic approach to early development and education. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr K.P. Sharma Oli has emphasized that early childhood development is enshrined in the country’s constitution and essential to achieve the country’s ambitious sustainable development plans.

In the absence of these MOE-led, multi-sectoral ECCE programmes, children’s learning outcomes suffer, but so too do school systems themselves as they pay the price if children are not well cared for with focused efforts on their development before they reach primary school.

In addition, there is also an increasing recognition of the importance of systematic monitoring of ECCE efforts, not only to track progress relative to the SDG4.2 indicators – but also because the entire ECCE programme must be seen as a continuum of development.

Since 2013, the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, UNICEF and ARNEC, with other key partners, have been organizing the Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on ECCE to provide a platform for high-level policy-makers of Asia-Pacific countries to share knowledge and discuss strategies to expand access to, and improve the quality of, comprehensive, integrated and holistic ECCE. The forum will result the Regional Strategy to improve the equity and quality of ECCE.

The 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is led by UNESCO. The Regional ECD Conference is organized by the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) www.arnec.net including its core partners United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific http://www.unicef.org/eapro/ and Regional Office for South Asia and http://www.unicef.org/rosa/; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)http://bangkok.unesco.org/; Plan International www.plan-international.org/; Open Society Foundationshttps://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/; Save the Children www.savethechildren.org and ChildFund International https://www.childfund.org/.

The three-day event, being hosted by Nepal Government’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, includes the participation of about 700 high-level government officials, development professionals, researchers as well as representatives from organizations working in early childhood development, care and education from 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

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For more information, please contact:

Mr Baikuntha Prasad Aryal, Joint Secretary/Spokesperson, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Email: baikunthaparyal@gmail.com

Ms Kyungah Bang, Programme Officer, UNESCO Bangkok Email: k.bang@unesco.org

Ms Silke Friesendorf, Communication Manager, ARNEC. Email: silke.f@arnec.net  www.arnec.net