On Friday 26 November 2021, The World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), in association with the Right to Education Initiative and UNESCO, organised a seminar entitled ‘What’s happening with ECCE in the world? Latest research and current perspectives’. This seminar, which is part of OMEP’s 2021-22 series, featured the presentation of two new UNESCO reports.
Having highlighted OMEP’s work in engaging evidence-based advocacy and deeper knowledge discourse on ECCE, Mercedes Mayol Lassalle, World President of OMEP, emphasised the need for research on important ECCE problems. She underlined that key challenges in ECCE such as inequalities, insufficient data, lack of research, minimal reporting by States, and territorial fragmentation on ECCE policies contribute to the ‘invisibility of young children as rights holders’. In such a scenario, she welcomed the research conducted by UNESCO as it is crucial to build visibility and attract the attention of the duty bearers.
Rolla Moumné, Programme Specialist in charge of the Right to Education programme at UNESCO headquarters, Paris, presented an overview of the report ‘Right to pre-primary education: a global study’. While acknowledging that ECCE is gaining more and more importance, Rolla mentioned the need to develop a normative framework on ECCE at both international and national levels. Highlighting the key findings of the study, she commented ‘the legal framework in most countries [is] not yet adequate to implement international rights and goals for universal pre-primary education’. Relating the ECCE agenda with the global conversation on the evolving right to education, she highlighted some initial thoughts on ECCE, which include:
Strengthen protection for pre-primary education in an international legal instrument
Promote intersectoral approach to education, health and care
Consider the right of parents to state support as primary caregivers and educators of small children.
Make clear linkages with gender equality and opportunity for both parents to re-enter the workplace
Consider how ECCE provision can ensure the inclusion of vulnerable groups for lifelong learning perspective.
The other presentation was by Yoshsi Kaga, Education Programme Specialist at UNESCO regional bureau for West Africa. She highlighted the key findings of the study entitled, ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Early Childhood Care and Education in the Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from the results of the Rapid Regional Personnel Survey.’ Yoshie noted ‘the focus of the study was to gain an understanding of the situation, practices, and challenges faced by the ECCE personnel and to raise awareness about the impact COVID-19 on ECCE personnel’. Some of the key findings of the research include:
Only a few ECE personnel had received training in crisis management and distance teaching
Discontinuation of ECE personnel remuneration and changes to employment status
Lack of affordable internet access and equipment was reported as the greatest challenge for remote teaching
Since ECE centers are closed, there will be detrimental effects both in terms of continuing education as well as getting adequate nutrition.