OMEP’s World Project 2013-14: Equality for Sustainability
In a recent survey of the Ministries of Education, Environment and Sustainable Development in 97 UN Member States, the highest priority area to be addressed in achieving Sustainable Development was identified as Poverty. The survey was conducted for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and this priority was rated above Climate Change and Agricultural and Food Security. When asked about the priorities for specific educational responses the Ministries rated Early Childhood Education and Care and Teacher Education above other significant areas such as Public Awareness and Higher Education. We live in a world with a great inequality, and we know that this cannot continue if we want a more sustainable world and society. Equality is one of the key challenges in achieving a sustainable society and world. There are so many studies showing the benefit of giving boys and girls equality of opportunities, and in recent years we have learnt a great deal about the potential of early childhood education in overcoming disadvantage for both the individual child and for society. Economists and politicians are increasingly aware of the tragic waste of human capital. We are also acutely aware of the need for greater efforts to transform the political aspirations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into a concrete reality. The Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child suggest the need to take action to ensure no child is disadvantaged due to (amongst other things):
Lack of protection against all forms of discrimination (Articles 2, 30)
Inadequate health care and nutrition (Articles 6, 24)
Abuse and neglect (Articles 19, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39)
Inadequate provision for education, play and development (Articles 23, 28, 29, 31)
Care and protection (Articles 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 33)
Economic exploitation (Articles 32, 35)
Freedom of Expression and participation (Articles 12, 13)
Inadequate standards of living (Article 27)
In this new OMEP project we want to support early childhood practitioners, trainers, researchers and advisors in their practical efforts to empower young children to escape some of these disadvantages that they face due to an accident of birth into poverty, abuse or discrimination.
We are putting together a web site (http://www.ecesustainability.org) to provide resources and links to support the development of these practical projects, and it will also provide a means of sharing good practice in these areas.
Thirteen countries participated in this part of the ESD project, including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Kenya, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, and Slovakia.
A total 87projects were submitted, these were concerned with:
• Socio-economic/ relative poverty
• Special needs and disability
• Social Injustice
• Indigenous peoples
The winners of the 2013-14 travel awards were:
• “Children’s ideas about families’ access to food from a perspective of wealth and poverty” – Dr Libby-Lee Hammond, Dr Sandra Hesterman, Dr Marianne Knaus and Mrs Mary Vajda (Australia)
• “Protección de la Madre Tierra” (Protecting Mother Earth) – Jocelyn Uribe and Verónica Romo (Chile)
• “Matarajio: Gender equality in Kenya” – Mercy Murugi Macharia (Kenya)
• “All the children of the world” – Jarmila Sobotova (Slovak Republic)