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For every child, a new idea
The foundation of the Pacific region’s human capital is developed in the early years of a child’s life. When governments invest in their young, they are better able to realize human rights, reduce inequality, and prevent deprivation, paving the way for inclusive social development and equitable economic growth. The early years are critical because it is a period of rapid brain development, which is the foundation for all future learning, behaviour and health. At a broader socio-economic level, early years’ investments demonstrate rates of return that are among the highest among public investment options, with benefits accruing to society in the form of higher incomes, better health, and lower crime rates. Conversely, diminished environments and adverse circumstances derail the healthy development of young brains, with lifelong and societal repercussions.
A recent study by the World Bank found that on average, a child born in the Pacific islands today will only be 47 per cent as productive when she grows as she could be if she enjoyed completed education and full health. That means, in general, children in the Pacific stand to reach only half of their potential, in large part due to poor access to and quality of critical public services. One in five Pacific Islanders live in poverty and children are disproportionately affected. Child mortality rates in half of the countries are well above the SDG target of less than 25 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality ratio stands at 84 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is also higher than the SDG target. Lack of access to adequate maternal and child health services, poor nutrition, limited access to improved water and sanitation facilities, and detrimental hygiene practices contribute to these mortality rates. Based on net enrolment ratios, more than 70 per cent of three to five-year-olds do not have access to pre-primary or preschool education. Corporal punishment in the home is generally permitted across the region. Across the countries, there are low human capital investments, especially in ECD, owing in part to inadequate public resources and technical capacity, geographic challenges, and limited understanding of the value of early investments to inclusive and sustainable national development.
Recently, Pacific island countries have been making notable developments in ECD. In 2017, Pacific island governments gathered at the Pacific ECD Conference, with its theme Moving Forward with Sustainable Development Goals for Early Childhood. This was the first gathering of its kind, with a total of 135 delegates, comprised of senior officials in ministries of education, finance, health, child and social protection from 15 PICs: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. In this conference, Pacific Island governments endorsed a nine-point action plan, the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD, that lays out critical national efforts to secure the optimal development of young children.
Following that conference, there has been momentous enthusiasm and action in many PICs on advancing ECD. At the 49th Pacific Islands Forum in September 2018, Pacific leaders shared their concern over the increasing incidence of stunting in children and called for a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach” to address ECD. Several countries like the Republic of Marshall Islands and Kiribati have established multi-sectoral committees for ECD. There is renewed interest across PICs on integrating ECD in national development plans and strengthening services for young children and families. ECD has also been identified as a key priority in the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum’ Leaders Communique, affirming a collective realization in the Pacific of the critical role of early investments in inclusive and sustainable development.
With funding support from the New Zealand government, UNICEF is supporting the Pacific region making concrete advances on ECD. This includes supporting the establishment of a regional and multi-sectoral body on ECD – the Pacific Regional Council for ECD (PRC4ECD), reflecting a council-approved expansion from the existing Pacific Regional Council for ECCE (PRC4ECCE).
On October 23-25, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, will hold the 2019 Pacific ECD Forum at Sheraton Hotel, Nadi, Fiji. The forum will gather senior officials (Ministers and Permanent Secretaries) from government agencies on early childhood (Ministries of Education, Finance, Health and Social Welfare) to collectively endorse the terms of reference of a regional council for ECD, and to follow up on advances made since the declaration of the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD. The overarching theme of the forum will be Implementing the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD, with 1) interactive panel discussions on key themes from leading global experts and regional exemplars, 2) breakout presentations on critical issues of ECD and case presentations from Pacific island countries and territories, and 3) a workplan for the finalization and endorsement of the Terms of Reference of PRC4ECD and related documents to the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD, culminating in the first Council Meeting of the PRC4ECD
How can you make a difference?
The purpose of the Expression of Interest (EoI) is to invite journalists from Pacific island countries including Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Nauru to attend and produce stories relating to ECD. This will help to achieve the most out of this forum in terms of media coverage especially in regional countries outside of Fiji,
Total of five (5) journalists will be selected.
This assignment will enable a cadre of media advocates on the importance of ECD and its Pasifika Call to Action in the Pacific region. It will also support in developing journalists’ understanding around ECD and child rights to enable them to better report on the subjects in the future, which will in turn improve public understanding around the issue and advocate for better ECD policies in their respective countries.
The goal through this EoI is to gain maximum coverage on the importance of ECD in the Pacific region and create strong awareness amongst its population with the overarching goal to advocate for improved ECD policies at country level, as well as improved promotion of child rights in general. This coverage will also ensure that Leaders are accountable to their input in the forum when they return to their countries as their actions and goals will be reported throughout the news.
This activity will also provide opportunities for transparency and support from regional media in implementing the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD. It will provide journalists with an opportunity to learn and report on key issues and developments taking place, sharing with the countries first-hand perspectives and new insights.
Finally, meetings with government officials, academics, media colleagues and civil society organisations will provide first-hand exposure to and a clearer understanding of ECD and child rights in the region.
To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…
External Expression of Interest_Reporting on ECD Forum.docx
For every Child, you demonstrate…
UNICEF’s core values of Commitment, Diversity and Integrity and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.
UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.
Only those shortlisted as per the requirements will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.
How to Apply
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization. To apply, click on the following link http://www.unicef.org/about/employ/?job=526345