INTERVIEW - Ulviya Mikhailova: 'The Conference is a Source of New Ideas'
Over the years, the ISSA Conference has become one of the most significant events in the Early Childhood Development field. Ulviya Mikailova of the Center for Innovations in Education in Azerbaijan attended many editions over the years. We contacted her to share her thoughts.
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Q: Ulviyya, what are your main take-aways from an ISSA Conference?
A: ‘This is the place where I can meet my friends and colleagues, people who share the same values. My first take-away are the personal connections. The second is that you always get valuable insights about Early Childhood Development.’
‘ISSA Conferences are a source of new ideas, but you never know in what form you will get them. It is often the starting point for new activities. Also, the quality of networking keeps getting better within ISSA. Before, everybody was representing their own country, their own projects and organization; now we see a collective identity of being part of ISSA.’
Importance of Networks
‘Back home, we have colleagues who are not part of networks, or they are members of less organized networks. When we come back and talk about our experiences with ISSA, they start to understand how important it is to be part of a professional network, especially for your own professional growth.’
Q: What does ISSA mean to you?
A: ‘ISSA is our identity. We founded ISSA in 1999. Sometimes we are concerned about developments at ISSA, mostly we are very content. But it's always about our identity, something that belongs to us.’
ISSA cares about us
‘Our organization is also member of other professional networks. But there, the sense of belonging is missing. ISSA is the place where we feel welcome, as a person and as a professional. I strongly feel that ISSA cares about us, our personal and professional well-being. That is unique.’
Q: What is your position in your organization and what is the focus of your work?
A: ‘I'm the Executive Director at the Center for Innovations in Education. My focus is the curriculum and framework of Early Childhood Education, and policies on access for young children to quality early childhood services. I’ve worked here for a long time and it always felt meaningful. Of course, not all my recommendations are accepted by policy-makers, but they have some impact, they promote changes.’
‘Most of our projects are done in partnerships, for example with the Education Curriculum Institute. We did an interesting project on early childhood curriculum. Another milestone was done in cooperation with a private publishing house. We developed beautiful resources for preschool.’