Experts in Early Childhood Development (ECD) validated the ECD practitioner and teacher training resource guide and its implementation tools during an Expert Consultative Meeting organized by the ADEA Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development (ICQN-ECD) and the African Early Childhood Network (AfECN). The resource guide and implementation have been developed by AfECN for use in an African context. The meeting took place from 6th to 8th June 2017 in ‘Pearle Beach Hotel’, Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius and brought together a core group of 28 international and national thinkers from leading institutions and universities, training organisations (e.g. UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa, also known as UNESCO-IICBA), civil society organisations and government officials from Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia. Two other organizations - the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) and the Results for Development Institute (R4D) also participated in the meeting virtually.
The meeting, with a focus on Early Childhood education training and career pathing, also outlined the key elements for the formulation of a 3-year action plan aimed at strengthening the workforce to take forward early learning, specifically within partner countries of the ADEA ICQN-ECD. Participants also deliberated on the development of a guidance note and the necessity to create an eco-system for delivery of a quality ECD services package and a systems architecture for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) workforce development. The Strategic Plan of the ICQN-ECD, validated during their first Steering Committee in 2017 on the margins of the ADEA Triennale, intends to impact on career pathing, qualification design and the training provision and so the expansion of services as well as the quality of practice in the field.
The Hon. Ms. Leela Devi Dookun Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research of Mauritius officially opened the meeting, whose objective was three-fold: (I) discuss the development of a three-year action plan for taking forward a collaborative capacity building program in selected countries in Africa; (II) agree on the process of producing a context-based guidance note on building ECD workforces that are fit for purpose; and (III) validate the revised ECD practitioner and teacher training resource guide with implementation tools for use in an African context. The Minister referred to the ADEA 2017 Triennale held in Diamniadio (Dakar) Senegal from 14th to 17th March, where African Ministers of Education committed themselves to prioritise early learning by expanding access to quality early learning opportunities to all. She emphasised the need to deliver high quality, enriching early childhood care and education experiences that obviously calls for concerted efforts to support the capacity of the ECCE workforce. Honourable Luchoomun lauded the collaborative spirit of organizers in bringing together governments and civil society in advancing ECD strategies and expressed the wish for a coherent and collaborative action plan to strengthen and upskill the African ECCE workforce.
The sessions started by clarifying the integrated nature of ECD, identifying the characteristics of ECCE delivery and its gaps and challenges. Participants identified the characteristics of an effective workforce in terms of their profiles across the ages and stages of child development, the tools being used to build capacity and manage this workforce and mapped out qualifications and career pathways for the ECCE workforce.
In this light, the ICQN-ECD and AfECN, with a growing network of ECD organizations, are well-poised to take the next step in the ECCE capacity building initiative and will jointly organize the first Human Resource capacity building workshop scheduled to take place in November 2017 in Mauritius. UNESCO-IICBA will contribute to this initiative by working closely with stakeholders to build the capacity of teachers of early years across Africa.