Experts and policymakers gather to discuss the role of homes, communities and schools for young children in Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific
Jakarta, November 5, 2012 – International education experts and policymakers gathered in Jakarta today to highlight the importance of early childhood education.
Learning in the early grades is critical, say experts, as are the roles of families, communities and schools in making sure that pre-school and elementary school children have a solid foundation for life-long learning.
"Children who attend Early Childhood Education centers show significantly higher levels of physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development than those who do not," says Stefan Koeberle, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia. "Strengthening access to early childhood education means helping future generations of Indonesians succeed in school and improve their lives."
Yet often, both globally and in the Asia-Pacific region, children are most vulnerable to repeating grades and dropping out of school during the first few years of primary education.
Since 2007, with support from the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the World Bank, the Indonesian government has increased access to Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) services to low-income communities, in order to improve school readiness. Their efforts have noted improved language and cognitive development in the project villages, and enrollment continues to increase.
"Extensive research shows that investments made in the early years yield higher returns than any other stage of a child's life. It is vital that practitioners, policy-makers and specialists work together to strengthen the Early Childhood Education agenda and push for better results," says Mae Chu Chang, the World Bank's Lead Education Specialist.
The conference, bringing together 250 national and international early childhood development experts, runs until November 7 and is co-hosted by the World Bank, the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), the Indonesia Early Childhood Care and Development National Coalition, the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Union.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been amongst the most influential global commitments to have impacted children all over the world, reducing child mortality and increasing school enrollment. The conference will also hold regional consultations on how to incorporate Early Childhood Development as an essential part of the post-2015 global development agenda.
“Results from this conference will pave the way for our next high-level Ministerial Policy Forum on Early Childhood Development in June 2013, hosted in Seoul, Republic of Korea. We have an opportunity here to make substantial progress on this discourse,” said Junko Miyahara, Coordinator of ARNEC.