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Early Childhood Education Really Matters: Major International Conference

Building on a recent surge in policy attention to early childhood education and care (ECEC) in OECD countries, more than 600 researchers, early childhood practitioners, policy makers, from Europe and around the world will convene in Stavanger 3rd-6th of September 2008, at the international conference Reconsidering the basics in Early Childhood Education.

The 18th European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) is one of the most prominent professional organizations in the field of research on early childhood education and care.

With more than 400 presentations and discussion sessions, conference participants will explore and reconsider basic concepts in early childhood education and care, especially how fundamental values are defined and how these definitions lead to different policies and practicies. The promotion of children’s rights (by the UN) implies a set of fundamental concepts containing a variety of challenges and dilemmas. In particular, the child’s right to be an active participant in activities and in their own every day life in day care institutions, as well as their right to be protected and cared for, implies a set of values which can be viewed as challenging and is worthy of consideration and questioning.

Like development, growth, care, learning, play, quality, socialization and the German concept Bildung will be examined. Core values like democracy, sustainable development, and inclusion are crucial for early childhood education both in Europe and in other parts of the globe, and will be investigated and discussed.

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In recent decades one could notice that research and development on early childhood is growing. A main goal of the conference is to explore these basic concepts in early childhood education as they are stated in national documents and frameworks across Europe and as they appear in pedagogical practices. The event will be a unique opportunity for dialogues and discussions not only between researchers from European countries but from many different parts of the globe.

It is the first time this event has been arranged in Norway. This is done in cooperation between EECERA and the research network ‘Barnehageliv’ (Preschool life), established in a cooperation between Queen Maud’s University College, Vestfold University College and University of Stavanger in 2004, and extended with Oslo University College in 2007. The intention of this research network is to strengthen the research competence and knowledge production within the field of early education. ‘Barnehageliv’ focus on practice-based research and developmental work of the preschools’ inner life; how children experience their participation in everyday life in the ECEC institutions.

An open access refereed journal ‘Nordisk barnehageforskning’ (Nordic Journal of Early Childhood Education Research) has also been established this year. The research network ‘Barnehageliv’ is honoured and proud to be the host of this conference.

The EECERA Conference Committee is pleased that the Mayor of Stavanger has invited the conference participants to an Opening Reception in Atlantic Hall at the 3rd of September. The organizers are honoured to have representatives of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research attending the conference. The Minister of Education Bård Vegard Solhjell will open the conference during the Opening Ceremony at the 4rd of September, presenting a Norwegian early childhoood education policy perspective.

The list of distinguished keynote speakers at the conference includes: Dr John Bennet engaged in work for OECD, UNICEF and UNESCO (France/United Kingdom). Dr. Berit Bae, Oslo University College (Norway), Dr. Lilian Fried, Dortmund University (Germany), Dr. Hillevi Lenz Taguchi, Stockholm University (Sweden) Dr. Colette Tayler, University of Melbourne (Australia), and Dr. Stig Brostöm, University of Aarhus (Denmark).

A full program of the event and more information about the organizers can be found on the conference website: Media representatives are invited to attend conference sessions and to contact the conference organizers for additional information. There will be opportunities for interviews with keynote speakers and representatives from ECEERA will also be available.

Karen Anne Okstad | alfa
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