As 2017 begins, I am so honored to assume my new position as president of World OMEP. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all of you for this opportunity. I have been quite busy since my election last summer trying to learn as much as I can about our organization’s history, its governance, and its role as a leading international voice for children’s rights and early education. The more I learn about OMEP, the more honored I feel to have the opportunity to carry out the responsibilities of the presidency. I truly appreciate the many, many people who have worked so hard since our organization began nearly 70 years ago, especially those who have served as presidents. I want to express my respect and special gratitude to Maggie Koong and Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson for their extraordinary leadership during their presidencies and for their mentorship as I prepare to assume my new responsibilities.
From its inception, OMEP has envisioned a world where all children have the opportunity to develop to their full potential, with support from their families, communities, governments, and global societies. To this end, OMEP has used our collective knowledge and skills as teachers, researchers and child advocates to promote the wellbeing, health, rights, and education of the world’s youngest children, their families, and the institutions that serve them.
With members in nearly 70 countries, OMEP has one of the most extensive networks for early childhood education and care (ECEC) in the world. OMEP has long history of protecting children’s rights to play and learn. In 2014 OMEP achieved Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. We must continue to increase the organization’s visibility and credibility in order to become an increasingly strong influence on public policies that both directly and indirectly impact the lives of children.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015. OMEP is proud to have been one of the organizations that advocated for considering the needs of the world’s youngest children in each SDG. Early Childhood Education appears as target 4.2 under education: “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.” Organizations around the world are developing concrete plans for to ensure that’s this target is achieved. OMEP must mobilize so we can contribute to this important movement proactively, not reactively. We will continue to think together about how we can influence decision makers to make universal preschool education a reality.
In recent years, early childhood policy has been driven by scientific evidence. OMEP has several platforms for generating and sharing knowledge about early childhood development, education and care. These platforms include the International Journal of Early Childhood, indexed in SCOPUS, our annual world and regional conferences, and the new on-line Education for Sustainable Development Resource Bank OMEP is developing for UNESCO (http://www.ecerecourcebank.org). Please join me in encouraging more scholars to contribute to our journal, conferences and the resource bank.
OMEP has a long history of conducting international projects. Most recently OMEP has launched several projects including Education for Sustainable Development, Play and Resilience, WASH from the Start. (WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene) OMEP members around the world are engaged in noteworthy practices in these and other areas of early childhood education and care. I invite our members around the world to document their work and share their materials in our journal, at our conferences, and on the UNESCO ESD Resource Bank. Our members now have the opportunity to document and share materials.
Another important goal for our organization is to promote the growth and development of all OMEP national committees around the world. Can you imagine how strong our organization would be if all of our national committees – nearly 70 of them – had large numbers of active members, including younger members who represent the next generation of early childhood experts and advocates? We also need to explore strategies for creating national committees in additional countries.
I promise to do my best to help OMEP become an increasingly visible and respected organization around the world. I will also strive to make the organization’s governance as transparent as possible, improve the organization’s financial position, increase opportunities for our members to communicate with one another, document the outstanding accomplishments of practitioners and scholars, and to promote policies and practices that will actualize our hopes and dreams for the world’s youngest children.
OMEP has accomplished many things over the last 7 decades. But there is much more to do. I look forward to working with all of you to accomplish our shared vision and goals.