Consultative meeting for the African Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (AECWI)

IICBA hosted a consultative meeting for the early childhood care and education (ECCE) workforce capacity building initiative on 17-18 August 2017. Ms. Maya Soonarane, Director of Strategic Planning and International Relations for the Mauritius Ministry of Education and Human Resource, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa’s (ADEA) Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development (ICQN-ECD) Representative, Ms. Sherri Le Mottee, Early Childhood Development Consultant for the World Bank, and Dr. Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the African Early Childhood Network (AfECN) from Mauritius, South Africa, and Kenya, respectively, came to take part in the meeting held at the UNESCO IICBA office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IICBA was represented by Mr. Virgilio Juvane, Senior Program Coordinator, Dr. Binyam Sisay, Program Officer, and Mr. Omar Diop, Senior Program Specialist, Ms. Beth Roseman and Mr. Tomoharu Takahashi, both interns, at the meeting.

The ICQN ECD, hosted by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research of Mauritius at the behest of ADEA, was launched in February 2015 to assume responsibility for the promotion of ECD on the African Continent.

The Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN) is a registered non-profit, established in 2015 to serve as a platform to champion excellence and collaboration in protecting children's rights, influence policy and practice, strengthen partnerships, and share experiences and knowledge in ECD on the African continent.

All three organizations, UNESCO IICBA, ICQN ECD, and AfECN, have a vested interest in promoting ECD in Africa. From conception to eight years old is a critical period in a child’s life. ECD is one of the priority areas of the African Union’s Plan of Action of the Second Decade of Education in Africa and has a comprehensive approach rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is widely accepted that ECCE is vital for a child’s development, determines future success in school, and lays the foundations for lifelong learning. It is important that countries have comprehensive ECD policies to protect and ensure the care, health, nutrition, protection, and education of children. Yet, according to UNESCO (2010) only 42% of sub-Saharan African countries have ECCE programs for children under three years old and less than 15% of children can look forward to a full year of preschool education.

The meeting was held to clarify opportunities for collaboration and to develop plans for a larger initiative workshop with government representatives which is tentatively planned for November 2017 in Mauritius. In the meeting, the team named its initiative the African Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (AECWI) and decided to conduct a desk review to identify specific ECCE needs for selected African countries. IICBA also plans to revise its Indigenous Early Childhood Care and Education (IECCE) modules which were published in 2012.