Early Childhood Education and Care: a priority investment

by Kristin Halvorsen
Minister of Education, Norway

As Minister of Education in Norway I am happy to be hosting the OECD roundtable conference Starting Strong: Implementing policies for high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Providing all children with high quality early childhood education and care is an investment in the future and provides a great benefit for both the individual and society.

The conference brings together ministers and senior officials, responsible for early childhood education and care in 36 OECD countries from around the world. Almost 200 participants have registered for the conference, which includes also researchers and stakeholders, and the conference will also be webcast live starting 09h00 (local time) on 24 January 2012. The theme of the roundtable conference is well linked to the Norwegian efforts to ensure high quality in our ECEC institutions.

“Let’s think big about our smallest children!”,  that has been my personal slogan for the political work and the extensive changes we have brought about in Norway since 2005.We need to do just what this roundtable is about; to see in detail how we can develop our policies put our ideas into practice. We need to move from statements to action. In doing so, we need to share and listen to each other’s experiences, both the success-stories and the challenges.  We need to see what is in our policy toolbox.

Investment in early childhood education and care is not just an investment in our children and their future, it also a sound economic investment.

I am looking forward to meeting all the participants in Oslo this week. As Starting Strong III points out, in order to develop good practices and high quality in ECEC we have to continue to broaden our knowledge in this field through more research. We also need to disseminate what we know.  This roundtable conference allows us to do both.

For more information about OECD’s work on early childhood education and care (ECEC): www.oecd.org/edu/earlychildhood
Online quality toolbox for early childhood education and care: www.oecd.org/edu/earlychildhood/toolbox
OECD-Norway High-level Roundtable: Starting Strong: Implementing Policies for High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)
Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research

Related blog posts:
Starting Strong: what should children learn?
Starting Strong: The people helping to raise young children

Photo credit: Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research

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