Media Center

Press Release


  May 14, 2007

Representatives from the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) today began a five-day meeting to examine policies and strategies related to early childhood education in the Americas and to follow up on the mandates adopted by the region’s Ministers of Education.

In opening the inter-American symposium on “Understanding the State of the Art in Early Childhood Education and Care: The First Three Years of Life,” the OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Alfonso Quiñónez, noted that the meeting will “tackle an issue that is fundamental for the integral development of our peoples, which is the educational focus on children starting at an early age.”

“At the OAS, the issue of education is one of the central themes of our work,” Quiñónez said, recalling that the Ministers of Education, meeting two years ago in Trinidad and Tobago, declared their commitment to expanding basic education, “including early childhood education, because of its major impact on the development of children and, in the long term, on the development of our societies.”

Throughout the week, the international experts and high-level governmental officials from the 34 countries will examine a series of issues in the context of a project on “Policies and Strategies for a Successful Transition to Socialization and School.” The symposium aims to support the OAS member states in their efforts to strengthen the institutional capacity of ministries and other government entities that plan and carry out programs for early childhood, preschool and primary education, the Director of the OAS Department of Education and Culture, Lenore Yaffee García, explained. “This is testimony to the importance that the topic of the development of young children holds in our hemisphere,” she said.

In his welcoming remarks, Quiñónez emphasized that “now it is known with certainty that the first six years of human life, and specially the first three years, are critical.” The issue of early childhood education and care in the first years of life “is one that should be urgent for all of us: policies and strategies that can support the member states in developing and guiding the capabilities and values of the next generation,” added the head of the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI).

The symposium will consider subregional reports from the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and North America, as well as presentations from civil society representatives, private institutions and international organizations.

Alfonso Quiñónez highlighted that the outcomes of this symposium and the studies and evaluations that will result from it “will provide a great contribution” for the Fifth Meeting of Education Ministers which will be held November 14-16, in Cartagena, Colombia, and which will focus on Early Childhood. The results will also help the member states in their efforts to meet their commitments in terms of the Dakar Declaration: Education for All and the Millennium Goals.

Reference: E-125/07