EXCELLENCE AND EQUITY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE
Budapest, 21-22 February 2011


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PROGRAMME OF THE CONFERENCE
CONFERENCE BROCHURE
Overall policy framework and main objectives of the conference

The Hungarian EU Presidency lays special emphasis on the topic of equitable access to high quality Early Childhood Education and Care for all. Quality early childhood education and care is crucial in the well-being and overall development of a child and can offer the best start especially for children with disadvantage to realize their individual potential. Coherent and high quality early childhood education and care enhances children's future educational outcomes, their cognitive and non-cognitive skills, provides a good basis for lifelong learning and contributes to combatting educational disadvantage and early school leaving.

Quality early childhood education and care is crucial in the well-being and overall development of a child and can offer the best start especially for children with disadvantage to realize their individual potential. The first years of a child are decisive in physical, cognitive, social and emotional development and language-wise. Positive experiences set the child on a path of success, whereas negative ones may cause irreparable damage.

The European Union recognises the importance of early childhood education and care, especially in enhancing social cohesion by breaking the cycle of disadvantage and laying the foundation for lifelong learning as well as contributing to better educational outcomes.

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. The Communication of the European Commission on early childhood education and care will be presented and discussed, the most urgent constraints will be identified and good practices in Member States will be promoted. The two-day conference - organised in close cooperation with and supported by the European Commission - addresses the issues of equitable access to quality early childhood education and care, the structure, governance and funding of early childhood education and care systems, comprehensive pedagogical frameworks and staff competences and the need for partnership with parents and the local community.

The target audience comprises representatives of relevant ministries of Member States, EFTA countries and candidate countries involved in different aspects of early childhood education and care, international organisations supporting research in this field, member organisations of the European Social Platform and other international NGOs.

The results of the conference will serve as an input for the Council in elaborating and adopting conclusions about improving access to quality early childhood education and care which are aimed at establishing a policy framework for further European cooperation in this field.