Building Partnerships to Promote Early Childhood Development
National ECD Conference held in January 2013

Bangladesh ECD Network (BEN), country's leading forum on early childhood, upholds the position that the relative neglect of ECD in EFA and MDG 2015 must not be repeated. Bringing the issue of early childhood as a goal with appropriate targets, strategies and indicators into the ongoing EFA and MDG agenda beyond 2015 discourse has been a key concern of BEN. The conference aimed to provide an opportunity to engage in sharing and dialoging about how ECD could be positioned as one of the priority issues on the post-2015 development agenda, BEN's 2013 National ECD Conference, with support from Plan Bangladesh and European Union, was devoted to this aim.

The theme of the conference was "Views from the Ground: ECD in post EFA & MDG Agenda"

The objectives of the conference were –

  • To emphasize the importance of ECD in Post EFA & MDG Agenda.
  • To introduce and disseminate the findings of the Lancet series on ECD.
  • To disseminate research and share good practice/model on ECD in Bangladesh
  • To have an informed exchange about ECD beyond 2015.

The conference consisted of three major seminars held in two days – two seminars, "ECD in Post EFA & MDG Agenda" and "Dissemination of Lancet Series on ECD" on the first day. A seminar on "Research Dissemination on ECD Good Practice/Model in Bangladesh" followed by a Way Forward Session were held on the second day.

BEN member organizations, Government agencies, concerned ministries, ARNEC, donor agencies, private sector, civil society organizations, and ECD experts and academics participated in the conference.

Ms. Mahmuda Akhter, Member Secretary, BEN, welcomed all and shared the program of the conference. The Global Perspective on ECD in Post EFA & MDG Agenda was presented by Junko Miyahara, Coordinator, Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) and the Bangladesh perspective was presented by Dr. A. M. Pervez Rahim, Deputy Secretary and Deputy Director, Establishment, Directorate of Primary Education. A round of questions and answers was conducted between the audience and the presenters and discussants. The discussants of this session were Mr. Kiichi Oyasu, Office-in-Charge, UNESCO Office in Dhaka, Ms. Liana Gertsch, Chief of Party - PROTEEVA, Save the Children in Bangladesh and Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Managing Editor, The Daily Star. The session was chaired by Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Chairperson, BEN.

An overview of Lancet Series on ECD was provided by Dr. Jena D. Hamadani, Head, Child Development Unit, ICDDR,B. Dr. Cassie Landers, Associate Professor, Columbia University, USA, Dr. S. K. Roy, Chairperson, Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation and Dr. Shahnawaz Bin Tabib, Executive Director, Institute of Child and Mother Health (ICMH) and the session chair Mr. AMR Chowdhury, Vice Chairperson, BRAC provided valuable comments in the interactive question answer session.

Opening session on the second day started with the Conference Overview from Dr. Ehsanur Rahman, Executive Director, Dhaka Ahsania Mission. A retrospective of ECD and Plan Bangladesh activities was given by Dr. Selina Amin, Country Projects Manager, Plan Bangladesh.

Of the three sessions on the second day, the first two were presentations of papers from six organizations. The papers mostly covered ECD good practices and innovative research on ECD from Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Plan Bangladesh, Save the Children, Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP), Centre for Injury Prevention Bangladesh (CIPRB) and Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University. The sessions were moderated by Dr. Md. Golam Mostafa, ECD Advisor, Aga Khan Foundation – Bangladesh and Tapan Kumar Das, Program Manager, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE).

The way forward session was conducted through an interactive discussion which started with brief observations by Dr. Erum Mariam, Director, Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, Mr. Iqbal Hossain, Advisor, Quality Primary Education Program, Plan Bangladesh, Dr. Nafeesur Rahman, Director, National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD) and Ms. Elizabeth Pearce, Education Director, Save the children. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Mohammad Mohsin, Education Manager, UNICEF Bangladesh.

The discussion was followed by the remark from Junko Miyahara, Coordinator, Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC). The Distinguished Speaker of the conference Ms. Rasheda K. Chowdhury, Executive Director, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh spoke about progress made so far in ECD and the need to build on what has been achieved. The Conference ended with concluding remarks by Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Chairperson, BEN. Dr. Ahmed emphasized the need to keep ECD high on the development agenda in the run-up to 2015 and beyond.