03/10/2017 to 06/10/2017

ISSA’s 2017 international conference “Local Responses, Global Advances: Towards Competent Early Childhood Systems”, attracted over 450 participants from 60 countries from around the world. Visitors gathered to discuss how the speed of change in today’s world affects early childhood development. It requires substantial shifts in the ways early childhood systems are designed, equipped, governed, financed and supported. It is time to embrace a systemic approach to address the critical problems that hinder children’s and families’ rights, and to learn from local responsive approaches to build competent early childhood systems. 

Watch the video with all the highlights:

The conference united the knowledge and practice of researchers, practitioners, policy makers, donors and NGOs from around the world to explore themes through discussions and interactive sessions, while participants shared their insights and solutions.

We are pleased to also offer the recordings of the plenary sessions: Jan Peeters' keynote speech " What makes competent early childhood systems perform?" Nora Miloray's keynote speech " Competent early childhood systems in the EU" and the panel discussion "the role of local policies in early childhood education" moderated by Michel VandenBroeck.

Co-organized alongside the City of Ghent and ISSA member VBJK, and in partnership with the Artevelde University College and the University of Ghent, the conference was very well received by our participants. We want to thank everyone who has joined us to make it a success!

Go to and follow #ISSAGhent17 for more information.





11/10/2016 to 13/10/2016

In Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius, over 300 early childhood experts, practitioners and policy makers met during ISSA 2016 Conference: Early Childhood in Time of Rapid Change.

Over the two and half days in Vilnius, the Conference heard from Keynote speakers including Dr. Nicholas Burnett from the Results for Development Institute, Dr. Lizbeth Goodman of University College Dublin and representative of the Steering Committee involved in the newly released The Lancet series on Early Childhood Development. Alongside these esteemed professionals, ran an incredible 100 concurrent session based on the four conference themes: Meaningful Learning for Children; Meaningful Preparation of the Workforce; Meaningful Support for Families and Meaningful Use of Technologies.

The primary focus for the conference were the emerging trends in Early Childhood Development and how practitioners can be prepared, and prepare the children and families they work with, for a rapidly changing world.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) received significant attention with the focus being drawn to what has been achieved in the field of ECD and recognition of the challenges ahead, which Dr. Nicolas Burnett summed by saying “although we go in the right direction, we speed and specificity”.

Bernadette Daelmans from World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health in Geneva, Switzerland illustrated how The Lancet series emphasizes the multi-sectoral care of 0-3-year-old children how these years are critically important in terms of nurturing, nutrition, health and welfare.

The concurrent sessions were varied, insightful and educational. Presented by colleagues from some of the 48 countries attending the Conference they dealt with matters such as:

  • “Growing up Together”: a workshops about parents of children with disabilities;
  • Live fast vs. Grow deep –How to support teachers effectively so they can independently respond to the changes taking place around us;
  • Assistive technology for reading interventions for learners with autism and intellectual disability

You can download copies of all the presentations based on the four strands here

PDF Copies the Keynote Presentations are avalaible here.

Interviews and edited highlights are available to watch on  YouTube.

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10/10/2014 to 12/10/2014

In response to the political and social revolutions that shook Europe in 1989, education and early childhood systems in the region embarked on an extended period of reform and innovation, drawing together ideas, evidence and practices from around the world. In the process, early childhood services have changed dramatically. ISSA's 2014 conference brought together more than 400 practitioners, researchers, experts and policy makers to explore the transformation of early childhood services over the previous 25 years by looking at the challenges of articulating such services that both fulfil the rights of all children and their families, and empower early childhood professionals and paraprofessionals as agents of social change.

The conference marked the 20th anniversary of the Open Society Foundations' Step by Step Program and the 15th anniversary of ISSA.

Presentations from the Keynote speakers can be downloaded here. 



15/10/2012 to 17/10/2012

The conference, co-organized by ISSA, DECET and Open Academy Step by Step Croatia, explored in an interactive manner innovative ways of professional learning that can empower ECEC workers in their search for quality, equity, and respect for diversity. The participants looked at examples of interesting practices that illustrate innovative approaches to professional learning that empowers ECEC practitioners working with children in increasingly challenging, diverse, and uncertain contexts. During the event, 350 practitioners from 47 countries in early years services and primary schools, policymakers and researchers explored questions related to the professionalization of early care and education personnel, through dialogue and a joint professional learning process.


11/07/2010 to 14/07/2010

The 2010 conference was organized jointly with the Division of International Special Education and Services/USA (DISES), the Council for Exceptional Children/USA (CEC), the Center for Education Initiatives/Latvia (CEI) and the International Step by Step Association. It took place in Riga, Latvia and was attended by more than 500 participants from more than 60 countries.


14/10/2009 to 17/10/2009

The 2009 conference marked the celebration of ISSA's 10th Anniversary. More than 260 participants from 50 countries gathered together to explore effective investments in early years programs along with integrated approaches to early childhood development (ECD) as the strongest foundation for well-being and success throughout life. The event was co-hosted by the Center for Education and Professional Development, Romania, under the patronage of the President of Romania, H. E. Traian Basescu. The conference was organized in partnership with and with support from the Open Society Institute, and also with the technical support and participation of UNICEF CEE/CIS and the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research and Innovation.


09/10/2008 to 12/10/2008

The 2008 Conference built on the tradition of inclusion and networking, and brought together 350 representatives of ISSA's member NGOs, international organizations and agencies, government representatives, donors, and relevant networks (such as OSI, UNICEF, the World Forum Foundation, Children in Europe, the Roma Education Fund, Early Years, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Education, DECET, Save the Children, ACEI, OMEP, ACEV, Civitas, and Aflatoun, among many others). ISSA was thrilled to host such prestigious organizations and to be able to provide a forum for dialogue to reinforce international efforts to provide quality education for all children.


29/08/2007 to 01/09/2007

ISSA was proud to be the host of the 17th Annual EECERA Conference, an event attended by more than 760 participants. The inclusion of participants from Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union made the conference the largest event in the history of EECERA's conferences.