World Forum a mega success

Dr Swati Popat Vats

The World Forum Foundation founded by Bonnie and Roger Neugebauer, hosts a global early childhood conference in different countries around the world. This year it was held in Macau from April 8 to 11 and the next one, scheduled to held in 2021, will be organized in Canada.

The World Forum held in Macau, Hong Kong where more than 700 delegates from 70 different countries came together was a fulcrum for ideas for a better tomorrow

Stress and Trauma in ECE Workforce had a moderator and other speakers where each of us gave varied views about the topic. World Forum a mega success World Forum a mega success World Forum a mega success

  •  Diane Whitehead, MD, United States – Moderator, ACEI professional code of ethics
  •  Dr Swati Popal Vats, Mumbai, India – addressing stress and trauma among staff & parents
  •  Jennifer Sturgeon, Omaha, NE, United States – improving morale, reducing turnover
  •  Rhian Evans Allvin, Falls Church, VA, United States – NAEYC and global ECD professionalizing the workforce

ECE teachers take care of the learning and development of children during the crucial years of brain development. If the work force is stressed then how will they give a foundation of healthy physical, social and emotional development to the young learners? Children during the early years are most susceptible to stress around them, the growing brain needs a stress free environment as stress is toxic for growing neurons. For this reason it is important we ensure that our ECE work force is not stressed or under trauma and to do that we need to look into these issues that they face.

World Forum A mega Success

1. Lack of respect– Teaching was given the highest respect in India, where the teacher was next to God. Today workforce issues have made teaching the least sought after career choice.

2. Lack of self esteem– ECE teachers are the most underpaid and the least valued. This leads to low self-esteem that will eventually transfer to the children they teach.

World Forum - a mega success


3. Lack of motivation and support– Teachers don’t have a voice and have no say about educational policy. All they can do is grumble and that leads to many frustrated teachers and this has a long-term impact on the stress they bring to their teaching.

4. Too much– Teachers end up teaching a class of say 40 to 80 students in government schools. They know they are unable to cope and take care of all the children. They are unable to do anything about it and some stop being interested in their work.

5. The burden of results– Blame game that teachers have to suffer when management and even parents question them if a student’s ‘result’ is not up to the mark. This leads to many of them feeling nervous about facing parents and also guilty about not doing their best.

6. No rest– Add to it the fact that most teachers return back home and spend their quality personal time and weekends marking notebooks, planning lessons, etc. This means by the end of the day a teacher is mentally and physically exhausted leaving neither any time to pursue a hobby nor any time to socialize with friends.

Dr Stuart Shanker- self regulation expert says, “What we need you to do is to be kind to yourself… We need you to recognize that if you are overstressed, if you are in a state of low-energy, high-tension, it’s going to be very hard for you to help a little eight-month-old who needs your help. So we start off with you.”

To help teachers combat stress, ECA adopted S.U.P.E.R., a customized workshop for teachers which is-

  •  S- Support- Find a buddy.
  •  U- Understanding Stress And Trauma 
  •  P- Pressure And Mindfulness
  •  E- Education And Training
  •  R- Rest And Rejuvenation

At ECA we believe that by adopting SUPER, ECE workforce will be able to cope with their stress and trauma and this will benefit not only the early childhood workforce but also for the millions of children and families who rely on early educators every day.

Session on storytelling

Storytelling from India and Warli painting. ‘Dancing on the Walls’, published by Tulika books, Author: Shamim Padamsee, Illustrator: Uma Krishnaswamy. It is an engaging story about a little girl from a village called Warli in Maharashtra and the story has a fantasy take on how the warli paintings originated. After the story telling (available on YouTube session I gave papers and crayons to all the participants from various countries to draw Warli art. It was enjoyed and I even gave them prizes for the same! Warli art form and others from India need to be taken to the world so that these indigenous art forms do not die; I have used Warli art in one of my books, The Diwali Story, to show the different instances from the Ramayana.

The international dance evening saw everyone not only swinging to global hits but also to ‘Zingat’! That is the reach of our songs! Gift exchange and book exchange are all elements of the conference that bring the participants together. Making friends from 70 different countries, adjusting to accents, enjoying taking pictures of vibrant costumes and fabrics from different countries, all adds to the magic that is the World Forum.

Indian participation

From India there have only been five to seven people attending every year but ever since Early Childhood Association became an alliance partner with the World Forum, the number of delegates from India has been increasing, there were 20 delegates from India for the New Zealand World Forum in 2017 and this year 35 in Macau. Most of them were also speakers in the various sessions

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