Words from the World President – June 2015

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It may seem a long absence since the last issue of the Words from the World President. But I assure you that a lot has been done in these few months.

On 4 February, OMEP co-sponsored an important side event, entitled “Giving Childhood Back to Refugee Children: Transforming Them into Active Agents of Change for the Post-2015 Agenda”, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It took place as part of the 53rd Session of the Commission for Social Development. Our Main Representative at United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Maria Pia Belloni Mignatti and Deputy World President Judith Wagner were two of the panelists. The event was joined by many, including Anne-Christine Eriksson, Deputy Director of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. You may find her comments by clicking here.

In April, Ulla Grob represented OMEP at the 12th Session of the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART) in Paris. She presented views on trends in early childhood education which have a bearing on the status of teachers. Findings of the session will be communicated to the ILO Governing Body, the International Labour Conference and the UNESCO Executive Board, so that they may take appropriate action and authorise transmission of the findings to member States of both organisations.

In the same month, I invited Judith and Regional Vice-president for Asia Pacific Eunhye Park to come to Hong Kong to be the featured speakers at the World Principal’s Leadership Institute, a conference that was hosted to celebrate my educational organisation’s 50th anniversary. Together with other experts, they shared their expertise with 350 participants from Hong Kong and nearby countries and regions. Judith further promoted the OMEP Environmental Rating Scale for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood (ERS-SDEC) to the audience. I thanked them for their efforts and glad that OMEP has gained greater recognition here. All proceeds of this conference went to OMEP for global child advocacy purposes.

For our friends in Europe, Regional Vice-president for Europe Nektarios Stellakis visited Moscow, Russia in early May and met with the organising Committee of European Regional Conference 2015. Please click here for a video taken by him during the visit. The Regional Conference will be held between 23 and 25 September. Please visit the conference website for more information and registration.

Very recently, I went to Incheon, Korea with Eunhye and OMEP’s Representative at UNESCO CCNGO/EFA Coordination Group Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson to participate at the NGO Forum and the World Education Forum, organised by UNESCO. Being one of the few early childhood organisations represented and one of the two international focal point of CCNGO/EFA Coordination Group, OMEP advocated strongly for early childhood education and development at the NGO Forum held between 18 and 19 May. The CCNGO/EFA Coordination Group, with Ingrid as a group member, finalised the 2015 NGO Forum Declaration “Towards the Right to Inclusive Quality Public Education and Lifelong Learning beyond 2015”, and called for holistic and comprehensive early childhood care and education (ECCE) from birth to school entry age group be progressively free (see articles 6 and 7). You may download the full declaration here.

OMEP was also invited to comment at Early Childhood Care and Education panel (chaired by Pia Britto and with panelists such as Anthony Lake and James Heckman) at the World Education Forum on 20 May. We pointed out that, in order to translate ECCE investment into equitability and quality, on one hand, we need to empower families and enhance the demand for ECCE; on the other hand, we need to make sure the service providers view children as competent learners and child right bearers and provide an environment that holistically enhances their development. Quality needs to be measured both in terms of structural and process quality. We need to have indicators that adequately and comprehensively measure child developmental outcomes, at the same time avoid testing. You may find the Incheon Declaration here. For more information about the World Education Forum, click here.

At the same time on the other side of the global, the Latin American Regional Assembly and Conference 2015 was held in Medellín, Colombia. The event attracted as many as 2000 delegates from 10 countries! Congratulations to the conference organisers and Regional Vice-president for Latin America Mercedes Mayol Lassalle for the fabulous success. You may visit the website or Facebook of the Latin American region for more details.

Back at the World Secretariat, we are currently very busy working on our Annual Report 2014. This year, almost 80% of our National Committees submitted their reports of 2014. This was quite an improvement comparing to the number of last year (67%). We would sincerely like to thank our National Committees for their selfless contributions. The Annual Report 2014 will be distributed to our National Presidents and representatives at the World Assembly next month and uploaded to our website after the World Conference.

Speaking of the World Assembly and Conference, which will be held in Washington DC, USA, if you have not already registered, please visit www.omep-usa.org before the deadline on 15 June 2015. Please join us and share the information with your colleagues and friends. If you have any questions, please email the conference coordinators at OWC2015Coordinators@omep-usa.org.

Last but certainly not least, the results of the ECOSOC consideration of OMEP’s application for special consultative status has been released. As you can see, after 67 years of efforts, OMEP is finally granted special consultative status! It was a long and tedious process. In Feburary last year, I and Judith went to New York to meet with Andrei Abramov, Chief of NGO Branch Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, to explore possibility of upgrading our status from roster to special consultative status. Many thanks go to Judith and World General Secretary Jessie Wong for putting together all the necessary documents and submitting our application by in May 2014. I would also like to thank Maria Pia, our ever-present Main Representative and our New York team to voice for the children at the ECOSOC.

I hope you find our work exciting and encouraging as much as I do. Thank you very much and I look forward to meeting you in Washington DC!


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