Saturday, 26 April 2014

Eight Week in Review- Final Blog Post

This course has opened my eyes to current issues and trends in the early childhood field at home and internationally. Although I was aware of the issues and trends we encountered, discussed and researched in this class I had not reflected on all of their consequences equally. Throughout previous courses we discussed the need for advocacy within the field of early childhood education. This course definitely reiterated this importance for me with the many talks provided by Dr. Vasquez in the media segments we observed. A very simple goal for me is that I will take more responsibility in my role as an advocate for the early childhood field. In my discussion this week I explained that I wanted to help with regards to professional development and training for the newly implemented full day kindergarten program. This week I read Kelly’s blog post and was very inspired by the actions she has taken to learn from other countries through research in terms of what makes their educational system so successful. This motivated me to also look into what other countries in the world are doing and ways in which they compare and contrast with the system we have in Canada. I am very fortunate due to my unique situation as an international student that I have already learned a great deal in comparing the American education system to that of Canada. One of my goals is to continue this endeavor and share what I have learned with my colleagues and other professionals within the field. I am fairly well versed with the Australian system as I took my educational diploma in Brisbane a few years ago. It is amazing to see things that I was exposed to a few years ago in Australia trickle into the Canadian system today. Slowly but surely we are learning from one another!

Although I did not make contact with professionals within the field directly, I found that many podcasts, websites and newsletters contributed to my growth and understanding of the issues that exist internationally. I have subscribed to the UNICEF newsletter and am currently working to set up fundraisers within my school for children who have been displaced because of the war in Syria. Finally as a third consequence of learning about the international early childhood field I have made a conscious effort to show my learners children around the world and discuss things that we are lucky to have that other children do not necessarily have. As a Catholic school, my students often pray for these children and have shown gratitude for simple things that they have and had not realized before that others live without.

I want to thank each and every one of my classmates for the passion and insight you have brought to the learning over the last eight weeks. Thank you so much and good luck to everyone in their future endeavors. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Getting to Know Your International Contacts-Part 3

For this week’s blog task as I have not received responses from the professionals within the field to whom I reached out to, I therefore researched the UNESCO website.
First a little bit about UNESCO and what they do…

UNESCO is an organization that advocates for Early Childhood Care and Education programs and centers that attend to health, nutrition, security and learning that cater to a child’s holistic development. It organized the first early childhood conference in 2010 and from then on has formulated partnerships with stakeholders worldwide in order to ensure that all children are able to develop their potential to the fullest.
In exploring the website I found an article that particularly spoke to me because it has been an issue within the field and a recent movement that is very important to me. Under the website’s news links I found an article entitled “International Day of the Girl Child 2013”. In reading I found out that in 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11, The International Day of the Girl Child. The day has been named and dedicated to girls in order to recognize a girl’s right to education, equity and to pause and recognize the unique challenges and strife that many girls still face in many countries around the world. The article explains that although, in the last decade, there has been a lot of progress with regards to this situation, there is still a great many issues that need to be addressed and eliminated.
The website outlines many of the issues with inequity that girls face and how they relate to the denial of education. UNESCO states:
  • 31 million girls of primary school age are out of school. Of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. There are 4 million fewer boys than girls out of school.
  •  Three countries have over a million girls not in school: In Nigeria there are almost five and a half million, Pakistan, over three million, and in Ethiopia, over one million girls out of school.
  • There are also 34 million female adolescents out of school, missing out on the chance to learn vital skills for work and life. 

To me these statistics were not at all surprising but they were still extremely sad and infuriating. The article concludes in stating: “Finally, girls who do not complete an education are more likely to join the ranks of the illiterate women that represent two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world” (UNESCO, 2014).

After looking at the UNESCO website and finding this article discussing girls’ rights for equity and education I decided to also look into a source I have used before but haven’t looked at recently. Plan’s website “Because I am a Girl” is an organization that is a global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty. As I hadn't visited the website in a while I decided to look at the stories section to read about anything new associated with this issue surrounding the subject of equity in the early childhood field. A story I looked at is called “Fleeing South Sudan – The story of two sisters”. The article discusses the civil war, the way in which many adolescent girls have taken on the role of mother to their younger siblings and community. The article also discusses current situations that they are facing in refugee camps that are jeopardizing their safety and the safety of other young girls and children. Another article I researched is “5 issues affecting the world’s girls in 2014, and beyond”. The article explains that barriers to girls’ education, gender-based violence, child marriage, maternal, newborn and child health and emergencies and disasters are the five major issues that are affecting female children around the world today.

As I was looking into the issue of gender equity in the early childhood field this week I also looked at the Malala Fund website in order to learn more about what they do to advocate for change and for the education of girls across the globe. A few months ago I saw a youtube video of Malala Yousafzai on the Jon Stewart show and I was amazed by the grace and wisdom of such a young girl. Here is the link if you are interested The website states that there are 600 million adolescent girls in the developing world however, around the world many girls are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors.

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” – Malala Yousafzai

Plan-Because I’m a Girl. (2014). Retrieved from

The Malala Fund (2014). Retrieved from

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sharing Web Resources- Week 6

As I have been using the UNICEF Canada website as a resource throughout this course I decided to use it once again to explore new areas, links and resources that I have not yet researched. While exploring the website in detail, I found a media center tab that I had not yet looked into. It led to a list of UNICEF Canada publications that include Annual Reports and Year in Review, Emergency Reports, Global Child Survival and Health, UNICEF Works publications, For Every Child articles, as well as another detailed list of International Resources and Publications. What a great resource! The articles and publications are listed in a way that would make researching a specific topic very convenient. It would also be a very helpful resource if you wanted to gather data about a surrounding topic for several consecutive years because all of the material is listed chronologically. 

My favorite part of the website including outside youtube links is definitely the video gallery. I needed a box of Kleenex while watching the short campaign videos, however, I felt so proud to be part of the early childhood field too. It was amazing to see the difference some of the movements, initiatives, fundraisers and campaigns are doing for children all over the globe. 
My favorite video from these links is entitled “2011- A Year in Review” in which the short 2:55 video takes the viewer through all of the year’s turmoil and triumphs all while holding onto hope “fairness and justice for everybody”. The video is definitely worth a watch here is the link:

I also watched a news feed from UNICEF’s continuing efforts in Syria. Due to the violence, inaccessible essential services and the disruption of communities and homes 1.5 million people are left living in Syria under dangerous and horrific conditions and have been receiving humanitarian assistance from UNICEF. Many families and individuals have fled the country and are living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Here is the link for the efforts that are currently taking place in Syria:

I do receive the newsletter from UNICEF Australia and this month’s highlighted topics are “Get Active for Children” a charity run for UNICEF. “Doing More for Australian Kids” which focuses on cyber-bullying, racial discrimination and suicide. “The Story of Polio Eradication in Stunning Images” which is a series of photos and captions from the movement towards the abolition of the disease in southeast Asia and the ongoing work that is still happening in Afghanistan. And finally the last article outlined in the newsletter is entitled “Becoming a Young Ambassador” getting adolescents involved in current issues that plague countries and children from around the globe. I believe that each and every one of these articles is tied to this week’s discussions about equity and excellence because every child across the globe should be allowed these basic human rights. 

This week Delila Vasquez spoke about equity in the media segment. She explained that “I work with homeless families, they had to think about, “do I spend my day looking for food or do I spend my day looking for a job?” as if these are choices. We live in a world that doesn't necessarily make sense and we seem to be comfortable with it. We accept it as if it is normal for us to have these conditions and we shouldn't accept them” (Laureate Education Inc., 2013). The children and families that Vasquez is referencing above are missing out on their basic human rights. Food, shelter, clean drinking water, personal hygiene and medical supplies are all things that every individual on the planet should have access to, these things are not luxuries or privileges. As Vasquez stated we shouldn't accept these things as normal and be comfortable with them. We shouldn't accept that millions of children are homeless, or millions of children are starving, or millions of children are living in countries filled with war, disease and violence. These are all things that we need to be speaking out against while advocating for the rights of every child at each and every corner of the globe. 


Laureate Education, Inc.  (2013). Excellence and Equity of Care and Education for Children and Families—Part 2. Conversation with Delila Vasquez Director of Program Services, Los Angeles Universal Preschool. Retrieved from

UNICEF Canada, 2014. Retrieved from

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Getting to Know Your International Contacts—Part 2

This week in preparation for the blog assignment I tried to communicate with my international contacts yet again but have not yet heard a response. Therefore, I reviewed Harvard University’s “Global Children’s Initiative” and also found a very interesting podcast from the United Nation’s Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) entitled “Beyond School Books” from UNICEF’s Changing the World for Girls Initiative.
          First, the “Global Children’s Initiative” lists three areas of focus in achieving its goal. These three areas comprise of spreading awareness and discourse surrounding the topic of early childhood development and health. Second, the initiative states its desire to expand global understanding about how healthy development happens, ways in which it can be “derailed” and how to get children who have been neglected back on track. Finally, the third criterion they concentrate on is to reach out to low and middle income countries alike and to get a multitude of voices from different perspectives involved in the global movement in support of children. I appreciate that the organization is trying to get a wide range of view-points involved to ensure that all children across the globe are considered and their needs voiced.

The podcast explains the situation in Afghanistan and the need for change. She explained that the first thing they are trying to create is safe friendly classrooms with teacher training. Dr. Sakena Yacoobi explains that they need the teachers to have a strong bond and relationship with the students, parents and the community. The AIL (Afghan Institute of Learning) is the first organization who has allowed the education of Afghan women. Since this movement the organization has reached over 300,000 students, has trained 20,000 teachers and the health outreach portion of the organization has touched over 2 million people from Afghanistan. Dr. Yacoobi explained that Afghanistan has a very strong culture based on tradition. She explained how it was imperative to work with the community and not threaten the tradition but show them the advantage of education. During the Taliban the community members showed their support and protected the organization. Eighty schools even ran underground with the help and support from the community members. She explained how it never would have been possible if the community members didn’t feel the link to the organization the way that they did. She explained that they felt very much a part of the movement. She explained that there are still many barriers that affect the education of women in Afghanistan however, they are trying to show people that they are not a threat to the culture and beliefs of Afghanistan. She explained that they do not use teachings, texts of beliefs from other countries or cultures but are trying to use their own traditions and culture to justify the education of women and girls. Her last message and wish voiced in the podcast was to dispel the stereotypes and misunderstanding that surround the Afghanistan people. She states: “Please let the people of the world know that the people of Afghanistan are not fighters and killers, they are loving people, they are peace lovers and they want to bring peace to Afghanistan…” It saddened me to think about children in the world and know that in many countries girls are devalued, cast aside and treated with inequality. With that said it was nice to hear Dr. Yacoobi’s hopefulness for the females and people of her country that a change was possible and was gradually occurring. 


Harvard University. Center on the Developing Child. Global children’s initiative. Retrieved from

UNGEI and Beyond School Books (producer). (2014, March 8). Changing the world for girls. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

"Education is the key to improving women's lives. Educating a girl, transforms her life and the life of her family, changing a community and through that you change a nation for the better. Health education is what creates sustainable improvement in the health of communities."
- Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

"When you work at the grass roots level, working with all kinds of people- that power of people will never be matched by anything else."
- Dr. Sakena Yacoobi