OMEP at UNESCO- Gilles Pétreault

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OMEP is a global organization recognized by UNESCO that works together with 450 widely varied non-governmental organizations in a worldwide network.

Every two years, a new Liaison Committee is chosen. Last January, the new committee began its term. President Nick Newland (Irish) and expert Davide Grosso (Italian) are part of an executive committee formed by 10 members, a positive aspect for continuity.

Three representatives where appointed by OMEP World’s executive committee: Mercedes Mayol-Lassalle, the World President; Lisbeth Gouin, appointed several years ago; and Gilles Pétreault, since January 2023.  The last two are members of OMEP France’s administrative council, located in Paris, where UNESCO’s headquarters can also be found.

In order to continue with OMEP World’s advocacy work in favor of the development of ECCE, free and universal access to education, the advancement of equality and inclusion in every aspect, a quality education for children from birth to 8 years old, the representatives have been participating in actions related to OMEP’s main areas of interest: children’s rights, peace, and the promotion of a “perspective from human rights.”  They also participate in the Liaison Committee, in some of the world days celebrated at UNESCO, and they maintain a close relationship with UNESCO’s administration team.

The 2023-2024 work plan at the Liaison Committee is based on two priorities: the Ocean Decade, by contributing to the creation of the Ocean Decade Conference for April 2024, and youth, mostly by inviting all organizations that officially participate in the appointment of the youth representatives.  In addition, they had to contribute and participate in the Liaison Committee forums and other activities, define action priorities and suggest ways to increase participation.  The maximum age to participate is 35 years old, and OMEP World’s EXCO suggested two candidates: Carolina Semmoloni (Argentina and Italy) and Klara Bahtić (Croatia.)

In essence, the Liaison Committee is in charge of organizing forums and the bi-annual assembly.  Five forums will be organized on the following topics:

  • – Forum 1: AI & YOUTH. It will be held in September 2023 to comply with UNESCO’s recommendation on the ethics of artificial intelligence.
  • – Forum 2: CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE. It will be held on October 27 and 28, 2023, to broadly discuss equality between women and men, discrimination, the violence pandemic, a change of perspective and influence in policies. It will we organized in collaboration with a main partner, IAESTE.
  • – Forum 3: CULTURE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. It will be held after Mondiacult, which will take place in the first quarter of 2024.
  • – Forum 4: GREEN EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. It will probably be held in May or June 2024, as a virtual forum in order to follow up on the previous forums and the CCNGO World Conference.
  • – Forum 5: RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND LEARNING FOR LIFE. It will be held in September 2024 in the context of UNESCO’s Futures of Education report, the new social contract for education, and the Transforming Education Summit. The NGO in charge of coordinating the event will be the Arab Institute for Human Rights. The forum will examine the progress achieved two years after the Transforming Education Summit.

OMEP’s proposal to hold a special forum on early childhood, presented together with 11 other organizations, is not included in this program, but a place for it will try to be found in most of the discussions, promoting the right to education, education for sustainable development, the arts and culture, or speaking out against discrimination in the main social events.

Regarding the world days, Lisbeth Gouin is especially involved in the International Day of Peace (September 21) and a Dance Festival for Peace is expected to take place in September 2024.

UNESCO’s representatives not only maintain a close relationship particularly with the education sector services at UNESCO, but also with those in charge of other specific topics of interest (such as women’s rights, global monitoring reports on education, among others.)

The main goal is to give visibility to ECCE and culture. As a result, our World President was first invited to the Transforming Education Summit (Paris and New York, 2022) and then to the Tashkent Conference, where she was one of the 11 speakers and participated in the committee that drafted the recommendations. Our task now is to work on the commitment made in the Tashkent Declaration and to strengthen the Decade project with UNESCO in order to get the necessary national support and, lastly, ensure that it is presented before the UN.

There is still much work to be done, but we believe that participating in UNESCO’s projects is an effective way to promote children’s rights, free and universal access to education and, at the same time, to strengthen the actions carried out globally by OMEP’s 69 national committees.

Gilles Pétreault is currently vice-president of the OMEP-France, representative of the OMEP-World to UNESCO and Honorary National Education State Inspector. 

Previously he was Head of Departmental State Education Services and has experience as Head of an in-service training centre for teachers, as Education Inspector with various responsibilities and as schoolteacher, in several areas in France. 

Holder of a doctorate in French Literature, he worked in the field of French teaching and mastery of French language, Preschool Education and Elementary School in various subjects. He also engaged in studies in pupils’ academic careers and inclusion for children with special education needs. Other interest include school organization, teachers’ and education inspectors’ recruitment and training.

As an expert in Preschool Education, he both coordinated and participated in reports to the Minister of Education and contributed to the training of the Education inspectors. Representative of the Education Ministry to the OECD Early Childhood Education and Care Network for seven years, Gilles Pétreault was also involved in several international studies or projects (European Union programme for Improvement of Preschool Education in Serbia [IMPRES]; European Commission Workgroup; Eurydice Key data on early childhood and care; and the Unesco French National Commission).

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