A new task force spearheading the development of early childhood education (ECE) in the EI Asia Pacific region has called on national governments to invest in ECE. The task force, which met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 15-16 December, stressed the need for governments to invest in ECE teachers and other early childhood professionals’ training and professional development.
Members of this task force include representatives of EI member organisations in Australia (AEU), India (AIPTF), South Korea (KTU), Malaysia (NUTP), and the Philippines (ACT). Members of the EI global task force on ECE from the region (Nepal and New Zealand) were also invited to the meeting. The union representatives deliberated on issues affecting ECE in the region, including: access, quality and equity, including gender equality; teacher training, continuing professional development and conditions of service; privatisation; and membership recruitment and organising.
Quality ECE teachers for quality ECE
One of the task force’s recommendations was that ECE be prioritised by unions and governments in the region. Members acknowledged that raising awareness was important to achieve that goal. They called on public authorities to invest in teacher training and improve the quality of teacher-training institutes. They also urged governments to ensure that ECE is an integral part of each country’s basic education and is coordinated by the Ministry of Education.
In addition, the task force stressed the importance of research to build a strong evidence base for union advocacy and the value of information sharing. More importantly, the task force recommended that unions recruit and organise ECE teachers and other early childhood professionals.
ECE, a crucial Education for All goal
Speaking at the meeting, EI Senior Coordinator Dennis Sinyolo urged members to guide implementation of the ECE Strategy Paper in the region and to remind their governments that ECE was the first Education for All goal.
“National governments committed themselves to achieving Education for All by 2015, and that commitment includes ensuring that all young children, particularly the most vulnerable, have access to early childhood education,” Sinyolo said.
Agenda for post-2015 development and education
He also briefed the task force about ongoing consultations to define the post-2015 development and education agenda and urged members and their unions to participate.
EI Chief Regional Coordinator Aloysius Mathews also called on task force members and their unions to take the lead in advocating for universal access to ECE and in organising early childhood teachers.
EI Strategy Paper on ECE
The regional task force was formed following the adoption of the EI Strategy Paper on ECE by the World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011. The Strategy Paper has clear priorities for implementation by EI and its member organisations at global, regional and national levels.
To read the EI Strategy Paper on ECE, please click here