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Words from the World President – December 2015

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Flying with OMEP. Oh yeah!

Are you ready for some excitement?

The second half of 2015 has been extremely hectic yet fruitful for OMEP:

The 2015 OMEP World Assembly and Conference

Our highly anticipated annual World Assembly and Conference was held at the elegant and historic Omni Shoreham Hotel (which has hosted every US president’s inaugural ball from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama) in Washington DC, USA between 27 July and 1 August. Thanks to the warm hospitality of the OMEP-USA team, we felt very much at home despite traveling half the globe with a whopping 20-hour flight (!), and started our many meetings immediately. This year, around 500 delegates from 39 countries participated in the Conference. I also had the honour to have invited OMEP Past Presidents Dr. Audrey Curtis, Dr. Selma Simonstein and Dr. Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, as well as Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy of Columbia University, and Dr. Nirmala Rao, OMEP’s World Treasurer, to take part in the first OMEP Presidential Forum. It was a dream come true, and I couldn’t thank everyone enough for her/his participation. Together, we declared that early childhood educators are the key to the world’s future (click here for our full World Declaration, selected photos and PowerPoint presentations of the World Assembly and Conference. For more photos, please click here or visit our Facebook page). I once again wish to give my heartfelt thanks to OMEP-USA. It would not have been possible for us to organise such a large-scale event without the meticulous arrangements and steadfast effort by the members of OMEP-USA over the many months of preparation. Thank you!

New York – United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 and ReadyNation Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Investments

I returned to the US shortly after the World Conference. I first went to Colombia University to attend the International Conference on Sustainable Development, as a prelude to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit which I participated in from 25 to 27 September 2015 in New York. Although there has been marked improvement in public health, school enrolment and gender equality since the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there needs to be a more comprehensive post-2015 agenda with greater impact. The United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development 2015 garnered visibility, political support and impetus for a truly transformative post-2015 agenda that consists of 17 goals and 169 targets.

SDGs

I was especially grateful to have witnessed the historic milestone of early childhood development (ECD) being specifically mentioned in target 4.2: “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” In the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that early childhood development can help drive the transformation we hope to achieve over the next 15 years.” However, ECD should not be limited to only education. Instead, as written by UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake, “learning should ignite a revolution in how we think about and act on early childhood development”.

I also participated in the Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Investments hosted by ReadyNation. I was so impressed with all the businesspersons being so committed to make a difference in the life of our future generations. I truly agree that early childhood professionals need to convey our message to the business sector, and I sincerely hope some of the initiatives discussed at the summit will be introduced to our network.

Paris – World Teachers’ Day

On 5 October, I took part in the UNESCO’s annual celebration of the World Teachers’ Day. This year UNESCO emphasised particularly on ECD and dedicated much of the roundtable discussion time to explore the future direction of professional teacher development and sustainability of early childhood education in developing countries. As the only roundtable panellist from the Asia Pacific Region, I shared the lessons learned from OMEP-Hong Kong’s Western China Teacher Exchange Programme and analysed the implementation of play-based curriculum in rural China. Moreover, representatives of OMEP-France and I submitted together our request to launch the Decade for Early Childhood Care and Education to Dr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO. We hope this will help generate greater political interest in promoting the best interests of the world’s young children.

European and Asia Pacific Regional Conferences

At about the same time when I was in New York, our European Regional Conference was held in 23-25 September 2015 in Moscow, Russia. Although I was unable to be physically present, I filmed a special video to welcome representatives from all over Europe, who gathered together at the beautiful Moscow State Pedagogical University and made an appeal to “Reach Out to the Refugees and Their Children”. Regional Vice-president for Europe Dr. Nektarios Stellakis has kindly shared his conference experience with us through this video.

The 2016 European Regional Conference will be held in Canterbury, UK between 5 and 7 May 2016.

On the other hand, I recently went to Auckland, New Zealand and attended the Asia Pacific Regional Conference. OMEP-New Zealand put on an exceptional event. The presenters were well prepared and the sessions were well attended. I especially enjoyed the strong cultural elements and activities, which let me know more about the Māori culture. We even slept together on a marae!

Congratulations OMEP-Russia and OMEP-New Zealand on both successful and memorable conferences. Below you may find some photos that captured our lovely memories. Please also visit our Facebook for more photos of the two regional conferences.

Last and definitely not least, I wish you a Joyous Holiday Season and a New Year filled with Peace and Happiness!

Happy Holidays!

BeFunky Collage

Maggie

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