Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE)
PRC4ECCE is an innovative regional Council, initiated by the Education Ministers of every Pacific Island Country for the benefit of Pacific Islands Countries. It is the only body in the Pacific that provides guidance on ECCE direction to countries, and monitors progress of ECCE in the region. The overall goal is to help children across the Pacific reach their full potential through investment in high quality and sustainable early childhood care and education (ECCE). The mission is to provide direction to national and regional level initiatives in high quality, inclusive and equitable ECCE programmes through effective coordination, sharing, dissemination, and use of relevant research, resources, and documented best practices.
The Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE) was initially proposed as part of the Pacific Education Development Framework (PEDF) strategy to consolidate and coordinate educational development activities across Pacific Island countries. Establishment of PRC4ECCE was approved in 2010 During the Forum Education Ministers Meeting (FEdMM), and UNICEF Pacific was requested as Secretariat. A regional consultation meeting in 2011 drafted the strategic plan and terms of reference, with the primary purpose of PRC4ECCE defined as to contribute to and support the PEDF’s objectives of aligning national priorities and ECCE initiatives by developing a regional information management platform to integrate and synthesize existing information, as well as providing direction for future research and program activities.
PRC4ECCE: Both numbers & letters were used, representing the importance of early literacy & numeracy in ECCE. “Invest in early childhood” highlights the importance of investment during the early years. Footprint: a child, taking its first steps & the journey of development. The 5 toes represent the 5 system components of quality ECCE. The shells represent the Pacific Island Countries. Green represents environment & sustainable growth & stewardship in the Pacific Region.
PRC4ECCE has identified 5 suggested ‘system components’ which have been found to interact and comprise a quality ECCE framework: 1. Policy/Legislation & Governance; 2. Human Resources; 3. Curriculum, Child Assessment, and Environment; 4. Performance Monitoring and Assessment; and 5. Community Partnerships. These quality discussions ultimately resulted in the development of “Pacific Guidelines for the Development of National Quality Frameworks for ECCE”, the culmination of an extensive 2 years process with education representatives from 13 governments, academia, development and research partners, and regional donors across the region; this document was a significant achievement for the region in ECCE, and were recently endorsed by all Pacific Islands Education Ministers in Cook Islands during the FEdMM meeting in April 2014, signaling the interests and commitment of governments to improve ECCE as a sub-sector. These Guidelines support government in providing a multi-sector approach covering health, nutrition, child protection, positive parenting and water, sanitation and hygiene in order to provide quality services for children aged 3-5 years. It will provide children with an all-inclusive package to development: language, motor, culture, social-emotional, and thinking skills.
As previously noted, UNICEF Pacific is Secretariat of PRC4ECCE. Council membership includes the following 13 Pacific Island Countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Advisory Group members consist of implementing partners, academia, development partners, ECCE specialists, government ministries and others identified by the Council as having a significant presence in the Pacific Islands region, and endorsed by the Executive Board.
During the recent yearly meeting in September 2014, PRC4ECCE committed to continued engagement in regional ECCE support and activities until 2017, with the following outcomes to achieve:
A log frame with supporting outputs to achieve the above outcomes were developed, and a commitment was also made to work towards keeping ECCE on the regional Education Ministers’ agenda as a priority, maintaining and strengthening this pioneering regional approach to advance the access to and quality of ECCE services to the young children of the Pacific. One proposed research study in light of the post-2015 SDGs will look at financing options for the Pacific Islands Ministries of Education to support institutionalizing ECCE within their basic education system. PRC4ECCE will also monitor the process of quality improvement of ECCE across the region.
- Advocating for high quality ECCE in the Pacific at national, regional, and global levels.
- Creating an accessible knowledge management platform for information sharing
- Developing a vibrant, dynamic research network in ECCE across the Pacific
- Establishing effective mechanisms for sustaining the Council that will ensure commitment and ownership of countries across the region
- Promoting the development of adaptation, and distribution of appropriate communication, learning and training resources to facilitate ECCE at community level.
The challenge now is to move ahead to secure funding for identified activities as well as future sustainability.