Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2008 | Summits Online | Espaņol

BACK TO NEWSLETTER: Youth and the Inter-American agenda | Ministerials: Agriculture - Labor - Education

Education Ministers Affirm the Role of Early Childhood Education in Reducing Social Exclusion

At their Fifth Meeting held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia on November 14-16, 2007, the Ministers of Education of the OAS member states agreed that attention to early childhood is critical and that a comprehensive approach would allow the region “to overcome the challenges of poverty, inequity and social exclusion.” The Meeting culminated with the adoption of a Hemispheric Commitment to Early Childhood Education, wherein the Ministers commit to increasing coverage in early childhood education, with a long-term objective of universalizing integral care for this age group. The document recommends that the Heads of State and Government commit to quality education and comprehensive care for the very young at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.

Ministers affirmed that they will continue implementing the Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices, in keeping with the longstanding Summit commitment of promoting a democratic culture, as well as to explore ways of developing appropriate early childhood and preschool education indicators. Ministers recognized that “equitable and timely access to quality and integral education adapted to global and local contexts and global realities is a human right, a public good, and a political priority, including in the framework of comprehensive care for the very young.”

The region’s Ministers entrusted the Inter-American Committee on Education with developing a work plan to implement their mandates, using as a reference “Programmatic Guidelines for Early Childhood Education” that recommends such strategies as sub-regional workshops to share best practices, a communication strategy to mobilize civil society in support of early childhood education, development of indicators of early childhood development, and strengthening the preparation of teachers and caregivers who work with this age group. At the same time, they beckoned the governments of the Americas to promote the participation of families and local communities in the education of the youngest members of society.

The Director of the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, Ambassador Carmen Marina Gutierrez, spoke of the symbiotic relationship and the inextricable link that exists between the Summits of the Americas process and Ministerial Meetings and of the importance to continue promoting this relationship. Ambassador Gutierrez highlighted the impact that early childhood education has in the integral development of countries, especially in the promotion of a culture of social inclusion and cohesion. She noted that early childhood education and care achieve pivotal social and economic objectives by assuring that young children are set on a positive path toward learning, helping guarantee equal opportunities for women, consolidating the well-being of the families of the Americas, which all serve to reinforce social integration.

For more information, please visit the V Meeting of Ministers of Education website.

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