World-Leaders Meet at Queen's to Consider the Role of Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding


The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI) has hosted a major symposium and conference that has brought together over 50 international experts to consider the role that early childhood development (ECD) services can play in building peace.

CESI is working in strategic partnership with UNICEF and colleagues at Yale, New York University and Harvard to build a global network of researchers to support the development, delivery and robust evaluation of ECD services in low and middle income countries. At this symposium, that took place on Monday and Tuesday 29-30 May at Queen's, over 50 world-leading researchers and ECD experts came together to provide advice on how best to develop and grow this network.

In the first stage, the network will support ECD services in six countries impacted by ethnic divisions and violence: Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. The network will support the capacity building of researchers and specialists in those countries to develop ECD services that seek to contribute to sustainable development and social cohesion. During the symposium, a draft measurement framework was discussed that is currently being developed to guide this work in countries. The framework is intended to provide a clear theory of change for how ECD services can contribute to peacebuilding and also a basis for guiding investments, service design and evaluations.

The conference held on Wednesday 31 May, was attended by over 120 participants who learnt about plans for the global network and also heard from Dr Rima Salah (UNICEF and Chair of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium) on the wider international political context for this work, and particularly the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and also Professor James Leckman (Yale University) and on the underpinning science and evidence-base for the contribution that ECD services can make to peacebuilding. Participants also heard from speakers who provided practical examples of developing and delivering ECD programmes for peacebuilding in a number of conflict-affected countries. Videos of the main presentations will be made available shortly to view online.

Pictured above are many of the participants from the two day symposium. Picture below are (from left to right): Professor James Leckman (Yale University), Professor Paul Connolly (Director of CESI, Queen's), Professor Patrick Johnston (Vice Chancellor, Queen's University Belfast), Dr Rima Salah (UNICEF and ECPC), Dr Laura Dunne (CESI, Queen's) and Siobhan Fitzpatrick (CEO of Early Years - The Organisation for Young Children).


The global network is being support by a core interdisciplinary team within the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen's, led by Professor Paul Connolly and including: Dr Laura Dunne (Education), Professor Frank Kee (Public Health), Dr Mark McGovern (Economics), Dr Sarah Miller (Education), Dr Laura Taylor (Psychology), Dr Karen Winter (Social Work) and Dr Kate Woodcock (Psychology).



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