Over the past three years, it has been my great honor serving as the World President of OMEP. During my term, I was fortunate to have worked with the most passionate early childhood educators and advocates from around the world and was truly inspired by their enormous contributions to early childhood education. It has been an enlightening experience and extremely fulfilling.
OMEP has always been a very important part of my life. I have been involved with OMEP Hong Kong for 23 years; and I have served in the Executive Committee for altogether 11 years, formerly as World Treasurer and now as World President. OMEP is like a dear friend I grew up with. Together, we have gone through a lot of tough times and overcome them. We have shared the joy and recognition for working for children all over the world. OMEP has helped open me up to a world of endless wonder and possibilities.
Today, not only has OMEP become the largest international organization focusing on children between 0 and 8 and consisted of almost 70 member countries around the world, but it has also achieved Special Consultative status at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, and is one of the two International Focal Points of the Collective Consultation of NGOs on Education for All (CCNGO/EFA) of UNESCO.
OMEP has also successfully implemented various on-going world and regional projects, including Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), WASH from the Start, American Red Cross-OMEP Early Childhood Emotional Support Initiative, and the most recent Play and Resilience world project.
We were the main driving force for the inclusion of early childhood education in Target 4.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are often invited to present on the views of the early childhood education sector at important meetings. For instance, OMEP is the one of the three NGOs invited by the UNESCO to serve on the International Advisory Group of the Survey of Teachers in Pre-primary Education (STEPP). In October, I was invited by UNESCO Bangkok to be a panel speaker at the World Teachers’ Day Forum: Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status. In November, we hosted a side event entitled “Teaching Peace and Building Resilience in Young Children through Play” during the Geneva Peace Week at the United Nations Office at Geneva. I am currently in Paris taking part in the“Action and Research” roundtable, organized by UNESCO as a tribute to late Gaston Mialaret, Past World President of OMEP from 1968 to 1974 and Honorary Professor of the University of Caen. OMEP has become a voice for children that the international community cannot neglect!
We have come so far; therefore, it was with a heavy heart for me indeed to announce earlier that I would not be continuing my role as World President after this year. This was truly a very difficult and reluctant decision to make. However, I know OMEP will be in good hands, and with a great team to serve for the best interest of young children around the globe, I am happy to pass the torch. My successor, Eunhye Park, has been the Vice-President for Asia Pacific for 4 years. She is a seasoned early childhood researcher and prioneer, who has a great vision for the future development of OMEP. I am sure Eunhye will continue the momentum and visibility OMEP has achieved in the past years and bring OMEP to new heights.
I would like to thank all Regional Vice-Presidents — Abimbola Are, Eunhye Park, Judith Wagner, Mercedes Mayol Lassalle and Nektarios Stellakis — and World Treasurer Nirmala Rao, as well as World General Secretary Jessie Wong, for their dedication and support during my term. It was an honor to work with such a collaborative and diligent team. I am also indebt to our representatives at the UN, UNESCO, OAS and other organizations, including Maria Pia Belloni Mignatti, Ulla Grob-Menges, Lisbeth Gouin, Gaby Fujimoto, Michelle Cantat-Merlin, Donna Wright, Amber Ericksson, Eli Bergsvik and many others. Moreover, I appreciate the guidance that I have received from our previous World President, Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson. I have gained so much from the past years as World Treasurer and then as World President, and I will treasure all the memories and friendships I have made.
I will continue to support OMEP to the best of my ability. I will remain in the Executive Committee for one year as the Immediate Past President to ensure a successful transition. I will also continue to lead the Play and Resilience world project. In its second phase, OMEP will partner with UNESCO to extend the project to target rural communities in China and Africa, where children are often deprived of interactions and resources that are critical to their full development in general and resilience development in particular. A large scale survey on attitudes on play in different cultures will also be conducted with all National Committees of OMEP later.
I wish the new World President and the new Executive Committee every success and I look forward to the opportunity of working with you all again in the future.
Last but not least, I wish the very best for OMEP and for the well being of our young children.