Royalty at opening of Early Childhood Care & Education conference
Lyna Mohamad

Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah yesterday attended the opening ceremony of the Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and the Regional Forum on SEAMEO Project 5 at the Royal Berkshire Hall in Jerudong.

HRH was welcomed on arrival at the venue by the Minister of Education and President of Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation Council, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong.

Hosted by the Ministry of Education, the April 16-19 event, which aims to enhance the capacity of both local preschool teachers and stakeholders from various ministries here, will also benefit SEAMEO Project 5 participants from Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

The conference is being attended by local pre-school teachers and stakeholders from the Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, along with SEAMEO Project 5 participants.

Overseas keynote speakers will be speaking generally on regional and global issues and trends in ECCE and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), and the importance of investing in early childhood care and education.

Experts from NGOs such as UNICEF and ARNEC will be sharing their ECCE/ECCD innovative ideas, programmes and best practices with local and overseas participants at the conference. They will also help facilitate SEAMEO Project 5 participants in their forum in order to achieve the Project 5 objectives by the year 2015.

The Regional Forum on SEAMEO Project 5 is specifically organised to gather all Project 5 participating member countries for a dialogue to make decisions to accelerate the achievement of providing the relevant and responsive programmes for the Project 5 target group.

Project 5 is one of the 10 UNESCO-SEAMEO projects to 'reach the unreached in education' in Southeast Asia with Brunei Darussalam as the lead country. The Project 5 target group is the five-year-old children of poor/disadvantaged families in remote, rural and semi-urban areas. The conference and forum will enhance cooperation and collaboration in the field of early childhood education and development among member countries.

At the same time it will also identify and implement responsive intervention pro-grammes that address national and regional issues related to preschool education of children of poor families in the participating member countries.

Both the conference and forum will serve as capacity-building activities for local ECCE stakeholders to keep abreast with the current regional and global issues and trends in ECCE and also form part of MoE's advocacy programme in early childhood education investment.

Predominantly, the conference aims to gather all participating member countries of Project 5 in Brunei to focus on accelerating the planning of activities of Project 5, programme proposal, implementation and accomplishment of the aims of Project 5 by 2015.

This event will also serve as a platform for local pre-school teachers, overseas participants and stakeholders in ECCE and ECCD from Brunei, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Through this event, they will learn from the experiences and best practices of other countries that may evolve parental and community partnership in the education of young children from poor and disadvantaged families.

Ultimately, the forum will establish mechanisms and responsive preschool programmes accessible to the target population of Project 5 in SEAMEO participating countries.

BIBD has also involved itself in the event by investing in the education of young children in this country, by offering a $20,000 contribution for the purchase of educational learning materials and 10 used computers for preschool children here.

Distribution of these learning materials and tools will be made next week during the launch of the Global Action Week in conjunction with Global Campaign for Education on early childhood care and education, which will be held at Kg Parit Mini Recreation Park. - Borneo Bulletin (17 April 2012)