In line with its Third Five-Year Development Plan to scale up the implementation of its Early Childhoood Care, Nutrition and Education (ECCNE) Flagship Program, SEAMEO RECFON organized the First Learning Exchange Forum on Early Childhood Development Promotion  (ECDP) in Southeast Asia on 1 August 2022.

SEAMEO RECFON envisioned the Forum to be a platform for sharing policies, programs, and practices in ECDP inmplementation in Southeast Asia under its ECCNE Program. The ECCNE Program aims to provide models of integrated implementation of essential components of childcare and education, health and nutrition, parenting, policy and and multi-sectoral cooperation, and provision of enabling environments to optimize child growth and development.  For the first Forum, the Centre featured the mapping results of ECCNE activities in the region and the experiences and challenges in ECDP implementation in Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

In his welcome address, SEAMEO RECFON Director Prof. Dr. Muchtaruddin Mansyur acknowledged and thanked the presence of  Dr. Xayapheth Chaphichith, Deputy Director for  Programme and Development of SEAMEO Secretariat, H.E. Professor Dr. Zaw Wai Soe,  Union Minister of the  Ministry of Health and Education, National Unity Government, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Mr. Garry Pawitandra Poluan from Paramadina Public Policy Institute, Dr. Harris Iskandar from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of  Indonesia, Dr. Teresita G. Inciong from the Early Childhood Care Development Council of the Philippines, and  H.E. Dr. Prak Kosal from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of  Cambodia as Forum speakers.

Dr Xayapheth Chaphichith officially opened the Forum and congratulated SEAMEO RECFON for this initiative as its contribution to achieving SEAMEO’s Priority 1 on Universal Early Childhood Care and Education as well as Sustainable Development Goals No. 2, 3, and 4.  He hoped that the Forum will truly serve as a global platform for discussion and encourage strategic collaboration among educational leaders, academicians, and professionals on Early Childhood Development Promotion in the years to come.

In delivering his inspirational message, H.E. Professor Dr. Zaw Wai Soe called for united action among countries in Southeast Asia  to advocate and implement programs for children’s access and rights to food security,  medical and health services, and education to build a better future for the region.

The plenary session started with the presentation of Mr. Garry Pawitandra Poluan on the Southeast Asian ECCNE Mapping Results which highlighted the progress and gaps on six main indicators, namely: demographics and macroeconomics, policy and multi-sectoral cooperation, child care and education, parenting, enabling environment, and children’s health and nutrition.  This was followed by country sharing of experiences from Dr. Harris Iskandar  on the holistic integrated early childhood development program in Indonesia,  Dr. Teresita G. Inciong  on enabling environment and strengthening childcare and parenting for ECD in Philippines, and H.E. Dr. Prak Kosal on the nutrition and developmental outcomes of young children (0-6 yr) through Cambodia’s ECD program.

In closing the Forum, SEAMEO RECFON’s Deputy Director for Program Dr. Jesus C. Fernandez emphasized the need for stronger collaboration among institutions from government and nongovrnment sectors in Southeast Asia to  promote the developments thus far and address the common challenges in ECD implementation in the region.  He encouraged the participants to share the insights they gained from the presentations and discussions to their colleagues towards enlarging the communities of practice in ECDP.

The Forum was coordinated by Dr. Umi Fahmida, SEAMEO RECFON’s ECCNE Program Coordinator.