The two-day ECEC conference “The Nordic Way” attracted 300 decision-makers, researchers and teachers from 48 countries to put the Nordic model under the microscope.
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ strategy for children and young people states that the Nordic Region aims to be the best place in which to grow up. It is an important vision and one that comes with responsibilities. It means that the Nordic Region must continue to show the way in the efforts to promote positive conditions for children and young people to grow up in, which is why the Nordic Council of Ministers has helped fund “The Nordic Way”. The conference was hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Union of Education Norway. In her opening address, Paula Lehtomäki, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, stressed that children and young people are a political priority. The Nordic Region has a vital role to play in ECEC.
The Nordic countries have decades of experience of developing policies equal access to early childhood education and care that supports families, the balance between work and leisure, gender equality and good welfare arrangements.
All aboard to the future
Paula Lehtomäki describes early childhood education and care as an absolutely necessary building block for children and young people to acquire the competencies that they will need in the future.
“ECEC plays an important role because the foundations you build at an early age give children an opportunity to develop later in life. Children and childhood are important in themselves, here and now, not just as a resource for the future. It is important that children have equal opportunities to develop. It is also important for society as a whole that everybody is on board,” she says.
With this in mind, the Nordic Council of Ministers has launched its own project: “Competencies of the Future”, which builds on many of the values that we already maintain and share in the Nordic Region. Democracy, freedom of speech, integrity, gender equality and openness – these are our values and the prerequisites for successful innovation and the development and implementation of new solutions. The key is good conditions to grow up in that generate trust and a sense of belonging. This is how we create positive new solutions together in the Nordic Region.”
Children and childhood are important in themselves, here and now, not just as a resource for the future.
OECD looks to the Nordic Region
According to Miho Taguma, a senior analyst at the OECD, the competencies needed in the future are not new in themselves. People have always had to learn new things.
“What is new these days is the pace of change. The children and young people of today have to deal with the fact that everything changes so quickly. It is a matter of what competencies they need to create a better future in a world of “artificial intelligence”, “big data” and “the Internet of things”. The pace of change also poses questions about human intelligence and values. The competencies of the future must, therefore, have a holistic perspective that embraces knowledge, skills, attitudes and values,” Taguma says.
The competencies of the future must, therefore, have a holistic perspective that embraces knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.
High-quality ECEC is a vital foundation stone for making these changes happen. The Nordic model revolves around childhood, children's well-being, play and learning through participation and discovery, and this approach is essential because our children, their curiosity and creativity are our most important resource.
The OECD has been interested in these trends since the late 1990s. It is now launching Education 2030 – The Future of Education and Skills, which is inspired by the Nordic preschool model.
“The Nordic preschool tradition is based on well-being, not just for the individual, but for all. Nordic children learn in a context, via active participation and by exploring and creating things together,” Taguma concludes.