Background & History:
The 1953 Education Law of the State of Israel provided for free and compulsory education for children aged 5-14 and Dr. Sara Faians-Gluick was appointed national supervisor of pre-school education. She contacted O.M.E.P (Organisation Mondiale pour l'Education Prescolaire – World Organization for Early Childhood Education)- established in 1948 in Europe after the second world war and Israel was accepted as a member. Reports from Israeli early childhood educators who participated in OMEP conferences appeared in Hed HaGan (Echo of the Kindergarden).
National Supervisor, Nitza Naftali maintained the connection with the international organization, reporting on Israeli activities. In 1971, I was part of a 5 person delegation, headed by Nitza, that participated in an OMEP World Conference in Bonn, Germany. She encouraged me to build an Israeli National Committee as did Dr. Nechama Nir-Yaniv. the next Ministry of Education National Kindergarten Supervisor. By 1976, there were already 24 Israeli subscribers to OMEP's International Journal of Early Childhood.
In 1979, the International Year of the Child, the Israel Association for the Young Child (The Aguda) was formally established and officially registered as an Amuta, (non- profit organization), under the leadership of Prof. Avima Lombard who continued to lead and build the Israeli organization for many years. Some of the subsequent leadership and guidance of the Aguda have been: Gila Ram, Yael Gavrieli, Dikla Zadok, Dr. Rina Michalovitch, Dr. Shoshana Sitton, Ruth Zur, Dr. Yael Dayan, Naomi Langus, Tuca Yalin-Mor.
The Aguda is recognized as the official link to OMEP. It is known internationally as the Israel National Committee of OMEP and belongs to the European Region. Every three years there is a nominations and elections process open to the membership and voting takes place for members of a board of directors and officers of the Aguda.
Some Aguda activities in Israel over the years include:
Seminars and Conferences on key issues in early childhood education and care
including: Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers and Directors; Involvement of Parents; Working with very young children (infants, toddlers, prekindergartens). Curriculum Development; Technology and Computers; Addressing the Needs of Directors, Teachers, Metaplot, Caregivers in early childhood settings.
Advocacy for New Laws regarding important issues related to young children: their education, care, and safety; the needs of families; supervision of programs and facilities serving all young children. More recently, established an active Early Childhood Education Lobby to enlist the support of Israel's Parliament in promoting legislation for licensing of ECE programs and supervision of programs.
Israel Organized and hosted the OMEP 18th ("Chai") World Congress and World Assembly in Jerusalem in July, 1986. The theme was "Young Children and the Quality of Life." Over 700 persons from 70 countries from all continents attended. It was an overwhelming success. This five day international event, with simultaneous translation for sessions and presentations also included five busloads of field visits to see children at learning and play in kindergartens, prekindergartens, day care, infant and toddler programs, etc. sponsored by community centers, kibbutzim, governments ministries, and women's voluntary organizations.
Early Childhood International Film Festivals: Marathon presentations of documentary and other films from all over the world with guided discussions led by experts, members of the Aguda.
Presentations, active participation, attendance at OMEP World Congresses:
Yael Dayan, Yael Gavrieli, Lynne Jasik, Judy Kugelmas, Avima Lombard, Rina Michalovitch, Gila Ram, Dalia Roth, Irene Sever, Ruth Slackman, Zehava Winter, Dikla Zadok, Ruth Zur. Over the years, Israel has been represented at meetings in: Athens, Bonn, Bogata, Caracas, Copenhagen, Flagstaff, Geneva, Lagos, London, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Quebec City, Santiago, Singapore, Soria, Tromso, Vina del Mar, Warwick, Yokohama.
Israeli representation on the International Board: Middle East Vice-Presidency and Elected Members of Executive Board: Dr. Lynne Jasik, Dr. Avima Lombard.
OMEP MEMBERSHIP – INTERNATIONAL GATHERINGS
OMEP Membership is by country, not individual, affiliation, and consists of approximately 70 members. The organization is currently divided into five regions: Africa, Asia & Pacific, Europe, North America, South & Central America. Once there were additional, separate regions for North and South Europe, the Middle East and Central America.
OMEP Headquarters are not permanent but traditionally located in the country of the elected world president who has a three year term and may be re-elected for an additional three year term. The current world president is Dr. Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson of Sweden and the current Vice-President for Europe (the region to which Israel now belongs) is Dr. Milada Rabuscova of the Czech Republic. There is a web page for OMEP.
World Congresses are organized and hosted by one of the National Committees.
They are held every three years, usually in the summer months. National OMEP Conferences are held annually in different countries. Israel hosted the XVIII World Congress in Jerusalem in 1986