Between 14-16 November, UNESCO held the World Conference on early childhood care and education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We were delighted to attend and participate in the conference, which brought together around 1000 academics, civil society organisations, state representatives and members of international organisations to discuss the development ambitious policies, how to put in place effective and accountable systems, multi-stakeholder partnerships and services; and how to increase and improve investment in ECCE, as an essential and integral part of countries’ strategies for attaining lifelong learning societies and sustainable development.
Right to Education Initiative’s Director Delphine Dorsi and ECCE Programme Manager Rajakumari were in attendance at the conference, and participated in three events.
Side event - Right from the start: the role of civil society actors and partnerships in advancing ECCE
At this event, Rajakumari Michaelsamy discussed the power of national and international law as a tool for guaranteeing free pre-primary education for all. She gave an overview on the status of national and international laws, and highlighted some of the best practices and existing gaps in the national and international legal framework. She also emphasised the need for an adequate legal framework as means to achieve SDG 4.2. Based on RTE’s experience, she also highlighted how civil society can play a role towards strengthening the legal framework at national and international level for universal access to quality and inclusive ECCE.
The overall objectives of this session were to propose concrete strategies in programming and influencing at different levels of the early childhood system to advance child rights to early childhood care and education and the early childhood agenda, and to share the work of civil society actors and partnerships on operationalising inclusive, quality early childhood care and education with children, families and communities, including with a gender lens.
Co-organisers included Plan International, Global Campaign for Education, World OMEP, the Ministry of Education, Palestine.
Parallel Event - Building and strengthening legal framework on ECCE rights: Achievements, Challenges and Actions for Change
During this event, Delphine recalled the international conventions and treaties which make reference to ECCE, and reflected that the evolving interpretations of the right to education mean that international law does not necessarily need to be formally revised for expanding the scope of a right. She reflected on possible avenues for expanding the scope of ECCE rights, highlighting that any new developments must build on what already exists in international law, such as the fundamental rights to non-discrimination and equality.
The event was co-organised by UNESCO, in collaboration with the Right to Education Initiative, Human Rights Watch, World Organization for Early Childhood Education, the Oxford Human Rights Hub (Oxford University), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, and the Latin American Campaign for the Right to education (CLADE).
The objective of this parallel session, which was conceived as a dialogue and experience sharing between country representatives and experts, was to further promote reflection on strengthening national legal and policy frameworks on ECCE. It offered a space for discussing and defining the scope, extent and contours, as well as possible modalities for the development of a dedicated international normative framework for further protection and guarantees.
Pre conference engagement event - Civil Society Organization Forum
Our colleague Rajakumari Michaelsamy took part in the closed civil society forum event, opening the discussion with reflections on financing gaps in early education.
This conference was a significant moment for the protection of young children’s ECCE rights. We were particularly pleased to see the publication of the Tashkent Declaration and Commitments to Action for Transforming Early Childhood Care and Education - find out more about the statement here.
We look forward to continuing our collaboration with various actors to advance the realisation of ECCE rights, including the implementation of the Tashkent Declaration.
More information and resources