On 12 March 2019 ICMEC joined forces with UEL’s Centre for Social Justice and Change to host emeritus Professor Helen Penn, co-founded of ICMEC and Visiting Professor at UCL Institute of Education. Her presentation was entitled ‘World Class Fantasies? - The Early Childhood Policies and Practices of International Agencies.’ Her presentation can be found here.
Professor Penn examined the rationales and promises made for interventions in early childhood in majority world countries – including those of the Sustainable Development Goals. Millions of young children and their families globally experience inequality and poverty. The private sector is the main provider of childcare and education, which inevitably means very uneven access and standards in the poorest countries.
Professor Penn contrasted these realities against the extravagant claims of the World Bank, WHO and other international agencies about the potential of ECEC to transform societies. In her presentation she drew on recent work by a variety of scholars across low- and middle-income countries brought together in a 2018 book she edited with Anne Trine Kjørholt: Early Childhood and Development Work – Theories, Policies and Practices, published by Palgrave Macmillan. For Professor Penn's presentation please see here.
Dr Katie Wright, Reader in International Development at UEL and a member of the Centre for Social Justice and Change at UEL provided a thoughtful and well-informed response to Professor Penn’s presentation and introduced a discussion around the issues raised. Her notes can be found here.