REYN at the international DECET conference ‘No Quality without Equality’
Under the auspices of Newman University, UK, No Quality without Equality was the title and theme of the DECET (Diversity in Early Childhood Training) network’s international conference held in Birmingham in June 2015. The event gathered more than 100 participants, including academics, practitioners, and activists from all over the globe, such as the EU, the Americas, Asia and Australia.
The work of the REYN international network, as well as that of the national networks, was presented by Colette Murray from TREYN Ireland, and Asja Korbar from REYN-Croatia. The opportunity to present REYN to a wider ECEC audience was created thanks to the joint collaboration and support of ISSA (International Step by Step Association), Open Society Foundations’ Early Childhood Program, and DECET.
REYN’s presence at this event offered an opportunity for sharing the challenges as well as the innovative and successful practices gathered under the umbrella of REYN’s international platform. Describing how REYN has been strengthened through its’ mission to develop inclusive practice, which can alleviate the obstacles faced by Romani and Traveller children as a result of economic, social, and racial marginalization was both worthwhile and inspiring.
Through numerous quality sessions, this conference endorsed the crucial debate on the relationship between quality and inequality and the role of ECEC within this dynamic. Janneke Platenga from Utrecht School of Economics opened a question on the role of ECEC within the tension between the targeted intervention and universal provision. Deepa Grover from UNICEF presented the challenges of early childhood development programs in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, and the UNICEF’s role in combating these challenges.
The discursive framework of Antibias defined almost every discussion during both conference sessions and conference breaks, and participants had the opportunity to reflect intensively on the ways our internalized attitudes defines our work with children, even more so because – in the words of keynote speaker Louise Derman-Sparks – internalized oppression co-exists with internalized privilege and sustains the existing power relations from policy to everyday life.
If we translate this into the context of the marginalization of Romani and Traveller children, then we – whether this we stands for practitioners, researchers, activists, policy makers, business managers, journalists, or simply fellow citizens – must remind ourselves of the internalized privilege which enables our position. The process (and not the eventual outcome) is at the heart of the struggle for equality; and of the resilience of the every child and every family that we are articulating. We must keep this in mind as it might not only strengthen our hopes for better future, but more importantly strengthen our capacity to imagine that a different world is possible.
Possible might just also mean real.