Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century: Early Childhood Development and Education

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Apr 15, 2015
by Stuart Milne
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Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century: Early Childhood Development and Education

Forty early childhood development and education experts tackle key Sustainable Development Goals target Session chair Michael Nettles speaking at Session 537 on Students at the Margins

Forty early childhood development and education practitioners and researchers are gathering at Schloss Leopoldskron this week to address key questions surrounding pre-school learning around the world.

In partnership with ETS (Educational Testing Service), the Salzburg Global session Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century: Early Childhood Development and Education will generate ideas for a strategic roadmap for delivering universal quality access.

From April 15 to 18, the international array of participants from countries including Australia, Brazil, India, Kenya, Lebanon, South Africa, the UK and USA will undergo an intensive program helping them to arrive at this roadmap. Their backgrounds include education, social science, services administration, local and national government, business, civil society and foundations.

The session will be co-chaired by Hirokazu Yoshikawa, professor of Globalization and Education at the Steinhardt School at New York University and multi-time Salzburg Global Seminar faculty member and session chair Michael Nettles, senior vice president and the Edmund W. Gordon chair of ETS’ Policy Evaluation & Research Center (PERC).  

Empowering people through education is one of the key themes of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which include the target of providing all girls and boys with access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education by 2030.

Meeting this goal is particularly challenging for less-developed countries hard-pressed to tackle the economic “double squeeze” of improving start-of-life opportunities for their citizens while also caring and paying for aging populations.

With this context in mind, Salzburg Global Seminar is developing a multi-year intervention with select international partners to coordinate and support an integrated early childhood policy and practice agenda, particularly for disadvantaged populations.

It aims to augment international efforts to achieve scale through the best available evidence of what is required to achieve access, quality, and scale.

Ensuring equitable, quality and scalable practices in early childhood development and education in developing, emerging and developed contexts will be one of the main challenges for participants of this week’s session.

“Research continues to support investment in quality early learning for children aged 0-6 and its positive effects on the workforce and society as a whole, but implementation has proven more difficult,” said Program Director Diasmer Bloe.

“Given our history of programming in early learning and education at Salzburg Global and our vast Fellowship network, we are solving the question of how best we can support the realization of universal access to quality early childhood development and education.

“Through the help of our high-level participants, this strategic planning meeting will provide us with a roadmap for action for the next three to five years.”

This roadmap will take the form of a Salzburg Statement - a synthesis of agreed-upon guiding principles, priority actions, and proposals for urgent consideration.

Salzburg Statements from previous sessions have been presented at conferences and in venues around the world, including at the House of Commons in London, the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and the ISQua African Regional Meeting in Accra.


The Salzburg Global session Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century: Early Childhood Development and Education is being held in partnership with ETS (Educational Testing Service). More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/542. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following the hashtag #SGSecde.