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GU professor participating in UNESCO efforts for universal early childhood education

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Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, professor of early childhood education at the University of Gothenburg, has been invited by UNESCO to participate in a group that is to develop a strategy for the UN’s global goal of access to quality early childhood education for all children. The group had its first meeting on 16 December.

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Portrait of Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson.
Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson.
Photo: Johan Wingborg

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how vulnerable society is without functioning pre-primary education. This has spurred UNESCO to act and initiate efforts to develop a global strategy for access to quality early childhood education for all children,” says Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson.

The UN has established 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Goal 4 concerns the right to education. It is comprised of several targets, including Target 4.2: “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”.

New global strategy to strengthen pre-primary education

However, in a new policy report, UNESCO warns that in a global perspective early childhood education is the weakest link in the education system and that there is a need to develop a clear strategy to drive progress.

“There’s a great deal of research showing that early childhood education lays the foundation for learning. Everything that children miss out on in early childhood education costs society dearly later on. This is why everyone – children, families and society – benefits when we invest in the youngest children. This is what UNESCO has seized upon,” says Professor Samuelsson.

Professor Samuelsson has held the Chair of Early Childhood Education and Sustainable Development at UNESCO since 2008, spent six years as the Chair of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) and has participated in many global research collaborations on pre-primary education.

Experts from all over the world to participate in the working group

The working group that is to develop the strategy will be comprised of experts from all over the world.

“Naturally, I am pleased to be a part of this. I will be able to contribute in terms of the content and quality of early childhood education,” says Professor Samuelsson.

“I will also advocate the proposal for UNESCO to initiate ‘a decade of access to quality early childhood education’, that is, for these strategic efforts to continue for ten years. This is not a matter that can be solved overnight.”

The group will meet for the first time on 16 December. The proposed strategy will then be presented to the concerned ministers of the world’s nations at the end of January, after which it will be implemented.