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Professionalization of early childhood care and education personnel: the missing piece for strong leadership?

When: Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 11:00 - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 12:30
  • Republic of Zambia Ministry of General Education
  • VSO International
  • VVOB - education for development
  • TTF Thematic group on Early Childhood Care and Education teachers and facilitators


Quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) lays the foundation for good health, socio-emotional development, educational success in subsequent schooling and lifelong learning, and future labour market participation. As a key determinant of quality, teacher capacities and working conditions must be paid increased attention in efforts to promote the achievement of SDG target 4.2 on ECCE.  

A critical aspect in the professionalization of all education personnel, including ECCE personnel, is the reinforcement of leadership. Early childhood teachers and educators are in a position to take leadership in determining and adjusting curriculum and pedagogical practices and reaching out to parents and other stakeholders for the wellbeing and learning of young children. This capacity has been called upon particularly at times of crisis, such as crisis arising from natural disaster or conflicts or health crisis including the COVID-19 pandemic that we are still facing today. 

However, is leadership an integral part of pre-service and in-service training of early childhood teachers and centre directors? Is leadership a notion that teachers and centre directors are aware of as part of their professional identify as well as pedagogical and professional practices? Early childhood personnel may not consider that leadership is a quality that everyone can nurture, as they lack societal recognition of the importance and value of their work due to their inadequate working conditions and status. What can be done concretely to motivate early childhood teachers to constantly improve their leadership competencies? 

The World Teachers’ Day of 2020 is an excellent opportunity to raise these issues in relation to ECCE, to celebrate the tireless efforts and dedication of ECCE personnel in supporting young children and their families in uncertain and difficult times, and to reflect upon and learn from others’ experiences to enrich our own perspectives and practices. The webinar is jointly organised by VSO International, VVOB and the Thematic Group on ECCE Teachers of the International Taskforce on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF).


Objectives and expected outcomes

The aim of the session is to raise awareness of the importance of teacher leadership in relation to ECCE, to discuss key issues around teaching leadership in the context of ECCE, and to point to innovations and recommendations on how to strengthen teacher leadership in ECCE. This will be accomplished by reviewing a set of international guidelines developed on the promotion of decent work of early childhood educators from the perspective of teacher leadership; discussing two concrete national studies from Africa and Asia; and highlighting lessons and experiences from the perspectives of an early childhood education centre leader working in a refugee camp as well as of an education ministry department in charge of early childhood education. Some of the key questions to be raised during the webinar are:

  • Why is teacher leadership important in the context of ECCE?
  • How leadership at different levels (i.e. classroom-, school/centre-, and community-level) affect factors of teacher motivation?
  • What kinds of pre-service and in-service training and other mechanisms are needed for nurturing a strong teacher leadership?
  • How can early childhood centre managers and education authorities facilitate teacher leadership in early childhood education, thus increasing their motivation?
  • What experiences can we find in teachers taking leadership, notably in curriculum and pedagogical innovations in times of crisis, including emergency situations and the COVID-19 pandemic?

The session is intended for all those concerned with the development of and investment in early childhood care and education (ECCE) and the education sector. This includes teachers and directors of early childhood centres, professionals from policymakers, teachers and directors of early childhood centres, professionals from teacher training institutions, civil society, private sector and international organisations supporting ECCE and education sector development.

Provisional agenda



Speakers’ bios

Anna Carmen Murru, VVOB

Zambian by birth, I hold a Masters’ Degree in Political Sciences, with a focus on International development and Africa, Anna Carmen Murru is currently the Partnership Manager at VVOB, working out of Zambia, but covering all VVOB partner countries. With VVOB, Anna has also previously served as Zambia Country Programme Manager, working with the Ministry of General education to build the capacity of teachers and educational leaders through existing educational structures, which is VVOB’s core work and approach. Her current role in the organization is to support networks, partnerships and programmes that cut across our country specific engagements.

Nikolina Postic, ILO

Nikolina Postic is a Technical Officer in the Sectoral Policies Department of the International Labour Organization. Her work primarily focuses on working conditions and labour rights in the teaching profession, with emphasis on social dialogue and the future of work in the education sector. She is currently managing a project on digitalisation, the future of work and the teaching profession in East Africa. Nikolina co-chairs the thematic group on ECE teachers and educators of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030.   

Purna Kumar Shrestha, VSO International

Mr. Purna Kumar Shrestha is an expert in education and development with 30 years of experience in classroom teaching, education leadership, teacher training, project management of grass roots-development works, research, advocacy, and participatory facilitation skills. He started his teaching career as a pre-primary teacher in 1990, and worked for Room to Read in Nepal. He is currently Education Lead Technical Advisory at VSO International. He led an innovative home-based early childhood education programme for Rohingya children in Jamtoli camp, Cox’s Bazar, and developed a mobile application VSO School app to empower ECE teachers and caregivers. He contributed to the development of MESHGUIDES on Early Childhood Care and Education in Emergencies. Purna is a member of the steering committee of the International Task Force on Teacher for Education 2030 and a member of United Nation Girls’ Education Initiative International Advisory Committee. Father of two young children, he founded the Early Years Education Society – UK ( www.eyes-uk.org) in the UK in 2017.

Join the webinar here