ACEI and OMEP Co-Sponsor International Symposium in Zurich

Article excerpt

Dear ACEI members: A meeting of historic proportions took place in Zurich from July 5-8, 1999, at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, where delegates from 27 nations gathered for the "International Symposium on Early Childhood Education and Care for the 21st Century," co-sponsored by ACEI and OMEP.

The delegates, representing 10 international organizations, gathered for the purpose of establishing international guidelines and standards for the education and care of young children for the 21st century. Setting aside language barriers and cultural differences, the symposium participants wrote guidelines in seven areas: 1) overall philosophy, goals, and policies; 2) environment and physical space; 3) curriculum content and pedagogy; 4) teacher and staff training and qualifications; 5) children's special needs, including health and special services; 6) program management, supervision, and appropriate monitoring; and 7) parent involvement and communication.

The keynote speeches challenged the delegates' thinking and provoked intense discussion and debate. Bettye Caldwell posed questions on the topic, "What Kind of Future?," and offered a view of a worthwhile future for children. Blanche Hermosilla Molina, National Coordinator of Preschool Education of Chile, spoke on the "Contribution of Preschool Education to the Chilean Education Reform," and challenged her audience to consider the children from some of the poorest countries. Peter Moss, former Coordinator of the European Commission Childcare Network, presented an alternative perspective about "quality services," and stated his belief that no single, universal, objective concept of quality exists, but rather that quality is values-based and context-specific.

Delegates worked for four days hammering out drafts of a document to represent the seven areas. I was privileged to represent ACEI as a delegate, but we are a diverse organization and your views should be represented as well. Provide your opinions to the editors of the document. We will seek feedback at the ACEI Annual Conference in Baltimore, April 17-20, 2000, and at a meeting of all the organizations represented at the International Symposium. Watch for more information on ACEI's Web site (www.udel.edu/bateman/acei).

ACEI is indebted to Sue Wortham, former ACEI President, and Leah Adams, from OMEP, for organizing the symposium and facilitating the operations with magnificent leadership and egalitarian sensitivity. Ulla Grob-Menges served as the world treasurer and made all of the arrangements for the participants.

One of ACEI's purposes is "to bring into active cooperation all individuals and groups concerned with children." The challenge now is to bring the Zurich document to the members of the organizations. With great hope and vision, we can make the guidelines work throughout the world and accomplish another of ACEI's purposes: "to focus the public's attention on the rights and needs of children and the way various programs must be (created) and adjusted to fit those needs and rights."

Thank you for the privilege of serving as a delegate.

Sincerely,

Shirley C. Raines,

President

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