Brunei Darussalam Hosts Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education




As Lead Country of the SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All, Brunei Darussalam gathered the four participating SEAMEO Member Countries to discuss and agree on initiatives at the national and regional levels that will provide greater access to quality pre-school for children and help achieve the Education For All Goals by 2015, particularly Goal 1 that pertains to expanding and improving comprehensive ECCE, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

With the objective to gain the most from the activity, Brunei Darussalam also invited school administrators, preschool teachers, ECCE providers, and other stakeholders from other ministries in Brunei Darussalam to attend the plenary sessions for them to gain fresh insights on ECCE from the international and regional perspectives. The Brunei Darussalam delegation comprised of more than 300 experts and representatives from various ministries such as Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman of Brunei Darussalam graced the opening ceremony of the conference and stated that early childhood care and education is an investment for the nation ™s future. œOur young children carry the future of our nation on their shoulders. Hence, we should ensure that they have access to a high standard of education , she emphasized. In her speech, HRH Princess Sarah also suggested providing support to parents by establishing parenting skills development programmes.

H E Pehin Abu Bakar Apong, President of SEAMEO Council and Minister of Education, Brunei Darussalam welcomed HRH Princess Sarah during the opening ceremony. Mr Haji Mahrub bin Haji Murni, Permanent Secretary (Core Education), Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam delivered a welcome address; while Dr Witaya Jeradechakul, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat presented the background of the SEAMEO Initiative to Reach the Unreached in Southeast Asia.

During the SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All Forum, 25 representatives from the five SEAMEO participating countries as well as UNICEF, Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), and the SEAMEO Secretariat mapped the situation of current preschool programmes for children of poor and disadvantaged families in these countries by highlighting their intervention programmes as well as the challenges and lessons learned in implementing them. Through exchanges of learning and following rich discussions, the participants identified noteworthy aspects of ECCE interventions and mechanisms in particular, innovative operational modes (to reach the hard-to-reach groups), progamme quality with attention to culturally and contextually relevance that can be potentially added to their ongoing efforts in the respective counties to accelerate the achievement of SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All objective.

Keynote presentations on ECCE were provided by UNICEF and ARNEC focusing on regional perspectives and various recent innovations in the region. Malaysia also shared specific noteworthy practices in the implementation of ECCE in Malaysia and beyond.

At the end of the four-day activity, regional and national plans for SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All were developed which includes activities such as establishing preschools in remote areas (by the local government, NGOs and private sector), raising awareness on ECCE (at the community, national and international levels), implementing intervention programmes on ECCE at the national level, conducting assessment, monitoring and evaluation of preschools and intervention programmes in ECCE, and developing Parenting Skills Programme which will be a new collaborative initiative under the SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All to be led by Brunei Darussalam as suggested by HRH Princess Sarah.

Coordination and support mechanisms for SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All implementation were also established. The focal units and persons at the respective participating countries were identified, and a regional task force and monitoring team was formed. They will coordinate and monitor activities at the regional level until 2015.

Brunei Darussalam leads SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All which is one of the 10 collaborative projects initiated by the ministers of education of Southeast Asia in 2008 through SEAMEO and in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat, UNESCO and other international organizations to ensure participation of Southeast Asia ™s unreached population groups in the global commitment that is Education for All.

The Early Childhood Care and Education Unit of the Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam serves as the focal unit for the SEAMEO Preschool Programme for All. The ECCE Unit took the lead in the organization of the Conference.



(Left) HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman of Brunei Darussalam delivers the official address during the Opening Ceremony. (Right) HRH Princess Sarah presents a mock cheque from the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad to the Ministry of Education represented by Mr Haji Mahrub bin Haji Murni, Permanent Secretary (Core Education) and Datin Dr Hajah Asmah binti Haji Morni, Head of ECCE Unit.




(From left to right) Mr Haji Mahrub bin Haji Murni, Permanent Secretary (Core Education), Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam delivers a welcome address; Dr Witaya Jeradechakul, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat presents the background of the SEAMEO Initiative to Reach the Unreached in Southeast Asia; and Dr Clifford Meyers, Regional Education Advisor, UNICEF EAPRO presents a keynote on achieving early childhood development with equity.




Preschool children perform choreographed songs which were originally written and composed for the Conference by preschool teachers and the ECCE Unit of the Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam.




Participants from SEAMEO Member Countries and international organizations visit preschool classes in Brunei Darussalam.

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More than 300 preschool teachers attend the Conference. UNICEF, ARNEC, and Malaysia provided key presentations on regional perspectives and various intervention programmes on ECCE.

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International and local participants took part in various activities during the four-day Conference including plenary sessions, workshops, country paper presentations, and an outdoor activity.