In early December, in the lead up to International Human Rights Day, RTE participated in the launch event organised by UNESCO to celebrate the Global Partnership Strategy for Early Childhood (GPS), the product of 18 months of multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. RTE has provided contributions to the GPS over the last 18 months, and presented these at the launch event.
The GPS was born out of the necessity to counter two negative trends which emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic: school closures and the decline in funding for education among many low and middle income countries. During the launch event, representatives from UNESCO and the organisation's special envoy, Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, discussed the urgency of this initiative and the important symbol of collaboration that it represents, building from the bottom up and drawing on the expertise of those on the ground worldwide.
Interventions were also delivered by key partner agencies UNICEF, RiSE institute, and OMEP. Speaking on behalf of the latter, World President Mercedes Mayol Lassalle stressed the importance of state obligations in relation to child rights, and the relationship between early childhood care and education and human rights more broadly. Emily Vargas Baron, Director of RISE Institute, highlighted the urgency of the GPS, and the five conceptual strategies embedded within it, among them advocacy, policy planning, equity and quality, finance, and accountability. Robert Jenkins of UNICEF noted the paradox of the recognition of the importance of early childhood, yet its lower priority for investment across nations and international organisations.
Delphine Dorsi, RTE’s Executive Director, delivered an intervention in which she welcomed the GPS as an important step in our collective effort for the realisation of the right to education from birth and to achieve SDG 4, including the provision of at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education.
She noted that RTE will take the lead on activities aiming to strengthen normative and policy frameworks to ensure universal access to inclusive and quality ECCE - on the basis on the right to equality and non-discrimination. These activities will include:
1. the development of an international normative framework as part of the global conversation regarding the evolving dimensions of the right to education
2. the development and strengthening of legal and policy frameworks at country level to ensure the implementation of ECCE as a right.
In doing so, we will also lead activities to monitor the implementation of ECCE from a human rights perspective. We will share information and resources and raise awareness on the human rights dimension of ECCE and offer our legal expertise to support the implementation of the strategy.
RTE is already collaborating with UNESCO, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, partner organisations, including OMEP, CLADE and Human Rights Watch, in addition to academics such as Sandy Fredman. We invite all stakeholders wishing to advance the right to education to join us.