ACEI has an active network of Country Liaisons who inform ACEI about education policies and activities in their respective countries. Country Liaisons report information and events as experienced by them in their communities and within their nations; therefore, these reports share the unique perspectives and opinions of Country Liaisons, which may vary from official reports about education in their nations.
Here are some highlights from four of our Country Liaisons; please watch the ACEI Exchange and the ACEI News section of our website for additional updates.
ACEI's Country Liaison from Nepal, Bishnu Bhatta, shares the following news:
Nepal's constitution guarantees education and cultural rights as fundamental rights. Furthermore, it ensures that each community has the right to receive basic education in their mother tongue to preserve and promote its language, script, culture, cultural civilization, and heritage. The Government of Nepal (GoN) has made numerous policy and program changes, such as a policy of free basic education up to grade 8. Together with the National Plan of Action on Education for All (EFA) and with technical assistance from various partners, the GoN has introduced the School Sector Reform Program (SSRP) with the goal of bringing reforms about within the time frame between 2009/10 and 2013/14. The SSRP supports the Ministry of Education (MoE) in various areas, such as social inclusion, physical infrastructure development, financial management, decentralization, institution development and financing, and sector management for an overall improvement in quality and coverage of basic education, including vocational and technical education. The SSRP is a long-term strategic project mainly targeting free and compulsory primary and secondary education. In particular, the SSRP will:
• Establish more schools on the basis of school mapping
• Bring schools closer to home and provide midday meals
• Introduce a code of conduct for teachers that prevents and prohibits corporal punishment
• Ensure greater provisions for community involvement in schooling
• Expand early child development (ECD)/pre-primary education
• Provide free (no monthly fees and free textbooks) education up to grade 8
• Target scholarship programs for girls, dalits (those considered outcastes), children with disabilities, children in the Karnali region, and indigenous nationalities (Janjati)
• Introduce flexible schools in many needy districts on a demand basis, wherein children who cannot attend formal schools (such as slum children) will be able to develop their learning skills and enroll for further education after graduating from these flexible schools.
Nepal has implemented many programs to help the country's children. ECD is key to an effective primary and secondary education and it has experienced a massive quantitative increase over the last decade in Nepal. However, a number of challenges remain to ensure the quality of ECD.
As a new Country Liaison for Ethiopia, Weldemariam Kassahun has been creating networks with various sectors and individuals, including the education ministry, educational offices, UNICEF, kindergartens, and other academic and social institutions. He shares the following news about early childhood education and care in Ehtiopia:
Until now, pre-primary schooling was not compulsory in Ethiopia, and hence the Ministry of Education has had limited involvement, despite taking part in curriculum preparation and monitoring activities. The private sector and non-governmental organizations have been major actors in this sector. Information about the Ministry's educational activities can be found at www.moe.gov.et/English/Pages/index.aspx.
UNICEF and Save the Children have undertaken projects and programs at various levels that have brought improvements for the everyday life, well-being, education, and health of children in Ethiopia. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women's Affairs, UNICEF has recently developed a well-received early childhood policy and strategic plan. This policy is the first of its kind in terms of its comprehensive approach, and preparation is underway for its implementation.
The Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs also has been undertaking several steps to combat child mortality, improve nutrition, and pursue child protection and child rights matters. Some of the news and other ongoing projects can be viewed at www.moh.gov.et/English/Pages/index.aspx.3
The value of traditional child-rearing practices of Ethiopia could be better promoted and incorporated into the nation's early years education. There is a case to be made for fitting the nation's long-standing tradition of religious education at maddressas as centers for child development. Utilizing local knowledge, rather than simply copying models and philosophies from other countries, is important for the country's future.
ACEI's Country Liaison for Haiti (West Indies), Guylaine L. Richard, submitted the following report:
Once upon a time, Haiti was known as "La Perle des Antilles" and the "First Black Nation to free its people from slavery." Unfortunately, the qualifier for Haiti then became "the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere." January 12, 2010, brought Haiti back to the world's attention as the location of one of the worst natural disasters—the earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people and left behind total devastation. Many children became orphans; many families became homeless; many schools, churches, and hospitals crumbled; and temporary shelters became "cities."
Less than four months after the earthquake, the government gave permission for schools to open. Haitian parents took their children to overcrowded classrooms in precarious edifices. They perceived education as a more attainable and measurable project than other disaster management. After the devastating earthquake, the need to transform the education system was even more pressing. The challenge in Haiti was not just to guarantee access to basic education, but one of transforming a failing system.
In January 2013, Richard had the opportunity to visit a preschool in rural Petion-Ville, built and managed by Haiti Partners, Inc., an agency that has been working in rural areas of Haiti on many projects, including support for early and primary education. The school places a strong focus on the social-emotional development of children. At the request of the Director of Health and Teaching Staff, Richard will support the school with a course on Basic Prevention, First Aid, and CPR. She also visited the Tipa Tipa (Step-by-Step) agency, which focuses on early childhood and professional development. The Director, Dominique Hudicourt, described the progress made to train teaching staff and the new opportunities for supporting children and pregnant women.
Getting the education system in Haiti onto the path of progress will require major reform from committed citizens, not just the government. The "band-aid philosophy" will not and cannot revamp this system. It needs major surgery. The starting point is early childhood. A solid foundation, with a well-designed plan, well-grounded standards, and a tight monitoring system are the minimum requirements for a glimpse at what we all hope will be the future of this country: well-educated children and future leaders.
ACEI's Country Liaison from Greece, Konstantina Rentzou, has been engaged in various activities to help promote ACEI and also inform others about education in Greece. One such activity included gathering research conducted in Greece to inform others about country-specific early childhood education and care, legislation, and education-related policy. In addition to sharing this project with her colleagues, she also has been encouraging them to provide information about their own work to add to her database.
Rentzou has provided the following links to organizations in Greece that work on behalf of early childhood education and care and education in general:
• Pan-Hellenic Association of Early Childhood Educators (www.pasyvn.gr/el.html)
• Hellenic Educational Society (www.pee.gr/)
• Pedagogical Institute (www.pi-schools.gr/)
• Center for Educational Research (www.kee.gr/html/intro_main.php)
• Special Education Society (www.eepe.gr/)
• Association for the Psychosocial Health of Children and Adolescents (www.epsype.gr/aims_of_aphca.aspx)
• Greek Society of Education Historians (www.eleie.gr/)
• Hellenic Institute of Applied Pedagogy and Education (www.elliepek.gr/gr_html/gr_home.html)
• Society for the Development and Creative Occupation of Children (www.eadap.gr/en/index.php)
News about education issues in Greece can be found at the following sites:
• Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports (www.minedu.gov.gr/)
• Greek Federation of Primary Education (www.doe.gr/)
• Greek education portal (http://eduportal.gr/#top)
• The Greek educational web server (www.pedia.gr/indexgr.html)
Opinions expressed are those of Country Liaisons and do not necessarily reflect official positions of ACEI or official policies of nations.