Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are partnering on a series of initiatives to advance their shared mission to drive innovation and excellence in early childhood development and to create opportunities for every child in Abu Dhabi and around the world to be raised in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment.
As part of this partnership, UNICEF is joining the new World Early Childhood Development Movement, or WED Movement, established earlier this year by ECA. WED Movement is uniting a multidiscipline global network of experts in early childhood development and related fields to work together to create a series of innovative programs and initiatives that promote the holistic healthy development of young children.
ECA and UNICEF will work together to improve cooperation with the United Nations and various international and regional partners to advance a common global progressive agenda for the early childhood development sector and promote creation of a digital infrastructure to better connect and share information across the global ECD ecosystem.
The ECA/UNICEF partnership was solidified at a recent meeting between Sana Mohammad Suhail, ECA Director General, and Ted Chaiban, Regional Director of UNICEF Middle East and North Africa. The two early childhood development leaders met during a visit by a UNICEF delegation to ECA’s Abu Dhabi headquarters to discuss strategies to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.
Sana Mohammad Suhail said: “UNICEF will play an important role helping to establish WED Movement globally and advance efforts to create true innovation in early childhood development to better prepare our children for the future, both here in Abu Dhabi and across the globe. This partnership will allow us to share valuable UNICEF research and best practices related to early childhood development with WED Movement’s Breakthrough Working Groups as well as support the development of a new ECD knowledge platform.”
Ted Chaiban said: "The Early Childhood Authority is a pioneer in early childhood development and child protection in Abu Dhabi. UNICEF can play an important role in helping spread their learnings and new programmes to countries around the world. Through our participation in ‘WED Movement’, we can work together to advance our shared goal of providing every child everywhere with the opportunity to have the right start in life.”
WED Movement has identified three central themes to focus on in year one, each representing social challenges and potential opportunities to promote excellence in early childhood development that are found in nations around the world. Those themes include addressing the growing role of technology in the lives of young children (Tech Humanity for Children), looking at a wide range of lifestyle influences that impact a child’s mental and cognitive development (21st Century Lifestyle), and fostering a holistic ecosystem surrounding the child that promotes positive mental development and social interaction at early ages (Emotional Wellbeing and Social Interaction).
As part of the partnership, UNICEF will join the Breakthrough Working Groups (BWGs) tasked with developing policy and program recommendations to help Abu Dhabi realise specific objectives around each theme. BWGs are WED Movement’s innovative approach to harnessing the highly diverse and extensive experience and expertise of team members toward realizing the opportunities represented across the three initial themes.
In addition to UNICEF, BWGs include representation of a mix of academics, healthcare professionals, policy influencers, children’s media and entertainment specialists and global business leaders from a wide range of institutions globally recognized as leaders in early childhood development, including World Bank, UNESCO, Harvard University and a number of global companies. To date, the BWGs have held nearly 100 strategic planning sessions.
WED Movement targets parents, children, partners, government policy makers, civil society, research centers, social investment funds, innovation centers as well as the private sector to promote and develop the early childhood sector at the local and global levels by incubating and implementing intervention strategies to address common ECD challenges.
Sana Mohammad Suhail said: “The work of WED Movement and the Breakthrough Working Groups will provide a valuable platform for developing and testing concepts that will ultimately serve as part of the framework for a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s early childhood sector.”
In addition, ECA and UNICEF will co-develop a research paper on the most significant topics addressed by the BWGs as well as jointly participate in a series of events and activities promoting early childhood development excellence.