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Early childhood care and education is connected with nature

Monday 14 November 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Education, National

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Early childhood care and education is connected with nature
One of the 20 pictures taken by photographer Melanie Cooper that will be exhibited at the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan this week. Picture: MELANIE COOPER 22111317

A series of photos depicting Cook Islands’ early child care education will be exhibited at the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan this week.

Well-known Rarotonga based photographer Melanie Cooper was commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to shoot the pictures.

It will be showcased alongside other selected countries – Ecuador, Brazil, Cambodia, Uganda, Canada, Thailand and Morocco – in the “We Are The Children” exhibition at the World Conference.

“When a UNESCO visual producer contacted me to shoot for this poignant story, I got moving on it as quickly as possible due to only having a few days to shoot,” Cooper told Cook Islands News.

“Tarome’s and Island Bubz were very helpful in ensuring all parents signed release forms where I was able to move around without distracting the children from doing their usual activities. So much fun in their creative chaos. Thank you everyone for making this happen.”

Rarotonga has nine privately operated child day care centres and two government-funded early childhood care and education.

Tarome’s learning centre provides childcare for children aged 1-5 years. Island Bubz Children Care Centre is situated in rural Rarotonga and surrounded by the mountains and taro plantations. Children can go on little excursions to the lagoon situated close by under the watchful eyes of the “Aunties”. They play with coconuts, sea, sand, sticks, immersing with their environmental surroundings.

“Mother Nature goes hand in hand with how children should be raised. How we nurture and care for our tamariki (children), we must do the same for our ipukarea (environment),” said Rakera Tatuava-Siason, owner of Island Bubz.

“We are passionate about creating learning opportunities for our youth and support working families. Our Aunties provide a safe and nurturing environment where all children are valued as strong and capable learners,” added Liz Hawaira, owner of Tarome’s Early Learning Centre.

  • Additional reporting by UNESCO