“Early childhood education is the most important issue of education policy and one of the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency”, highlighted Rózsa Hoffmann, Minister of State for Education of the Ministry of National Resources, at a conference in Budapest, on 21 February. The politician added, “it’s especially important for disadvantaged children, to receive education as early as possible”.
The conference “Excellence and Equity in Early Childhood Education and Care” is the Hungarian Presidency’s first expert level event on education, involving experts from member state ministries, and various international organisations. The essence of early childhood education is to provide appropriate schooling, to pre-school age children. Such education is especially important for disadvantaged children, to promote their successful learning and catching-up at a later stage. The participants of the Budapest conference discussed the institutional framework of early childhood education, the financing models applied by member states, teacher education, and parents’ involvement.
Early childhood education in trio’s focus
During a press conference in the break of the event, Rózsa Hoffmann stressed the importance of early childhood education, by saying that a child who receives institutional childhood education will have better reading and speaking skills, and will perform better in school. She added that, all education experts are aware of this, and the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian trio considers this issue as an education policy priority. The Hungarian Presidency is keen to enhance the EU’s professional cooperation in this area, to help the Council to draw conclusions on the results, and to make the Commission use the Presidency’s work in the future, the Minister of State said.
Key role in creating the future
Andrulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multi-lingualism and Youth, welcomed the Hungarian Presidency’s objectives, since the subject was treated as a priority by the Commission in its communication, published in February. Ms Vassiliou pointed out that “in the EU, one in five 15-year-olds has reading difficulty, and one in seven in the same age group drops out of school, or leave school for good”. Therefore, the Europe 2020 Strategy seeks to reduce the number of drop-outs below 10 percent, by 2020. The Commissioner added, “Early childhood education plays a key role in meeting this objective.” The Commission’s aim, is to provide quality care and education to every child in the EU.
“Although education falls within the competence of member states, the Ministers asked the Commission to assist programme coordination and encourage participation,” continued Ms Vassiliou. She added, “The countries have realised that children will reap benefits as they become better prepared for life-long learning, and have a prospect of a better life.” According to the Commissioner, investment in early childhood education also offers an economic advantage for member states: “qualified young people have better prospects of finding employment in the labour market.”
Conference on Early Childhood Education and Care - “Excellence and Equity in Early Childhood Education and Care”
Date: 2011. February 20. - 2011. February 22.
The aim of the conference is to call for European cooperation in improving equitable access to high quality early childhood education and care and promoting solutions in issues of common concern, especially in breaking the cycle of disadvantage and enhancing lifelong learning.
Location: Danubius Hotel Helia
Address: Hungary 1133 Budapest, Kárpát utca 62-64. Budapest
Contact: Ministry for National Resources, State Secretariat for Education firstname.lastname@example.org