| Zee Yusri |
THE Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) International Conference aims to raise awareness about trends and issues related to the lives of young children, and the importance of giving them the best possible start to life.
As one of the eight strategies for education under the Brunei Vision 2035, investing in early childhood education has indeed been recognised as a priority by the government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in its pursuit for excellence and in building a nation of educated, highly-skilled citizens by 2035.
Minister of Education Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong yesterday highlighted this in his speech during the launch of the ECCE International Conference at the Royal Berkshire Hall in Jerudong.
International commitment to expand the provision of early childhood care and education services for all children globally is reflected in global targets outlined in the current Millennium Development Goals and Education for All, he added. There is also international agreement on investing in high quality services for young children and their families reflect a commitment to strengthen the future generations and nurture future leaders.
The goals for provision of quality early childhood education and care have therefore been identified as policy priorities by our government and those around the world and hence, the choice of theme for the conference, ‘First Steps to Nurturing Future Leaders’ is highly relevant and timely, he added.
“Across our region, significant developments in the care and education field have been achieved in recent decades and Brunei has made several achievements in the field of early childhood care and education where most achievements have met the international standards and global best practices,” shared the minister.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) has implemented a wide range of initiatives designed to raise the quality of preschool education nationwide, including the introduction of a Preschool Quality Indicator Checklist, Home-to-School Transition programmes, Capacity Building programmes and a Volunteer Teaching Assistant programme.
He said, the School and Family Engagement (SAFE) programme is the latest programme to empower parents to enhance their parenting skills through hands-on workshops and to develop their children’s love for reading. The programme also aims to improve parenting skills.
At the policy level, it is inspiring that the Ministry of Education (MoE) is in the process of developing its National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education through a large team of specified officials and professionals.
“I strongly believe the regulatory framework not only supports our commitment to achieving international quality standards for the provision of early childhood education and care, but also in ensuring that the policies, practices, priorities and commitment support the preservation of Bruneian values and traditions, hence strengthening the national identity of our future generation,” he added.
The minister noted that the current discussion related to post-2015 Global Development Goals indicates that they will be seeing increased emphasis on sustainability in policy making and agenda setting for the future. Increasingly, within the field of early childhood, high quality programming is associated in the international research literature with connecting services to the specific needs and priorities of local communities.
He underlined the implication that early childhood education and care can play an important role in contributing to sustainability, not only in terms of teaching children to care for their environment but also in terms of supporting sustained appreciation of cultural heritage.
“It is hoped that by building future plans for the provision of early childhood care and education on Bruneian values and priorities, we will be well-placed to achieve future global goals. Additionally, we need to build stronger and more effective resource capacity at all levels by training all service providers to become effective providers of quality early childhood education and care,” he said.