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Hand watering to young plant with seedling and plant growing concept
Thursday 28 November 2024 00:00 - Friday 29 November 2024 00:00

14th International Conference: 

From the cradle to the classroom : reducing inequalities, boosting capacities

Thursday 28 and Friday 29 November 2024 - IN-PERSON ONLY
Location: HESTS, Sierre, Switzerland
with simultaneous interpretation in English, French & German


The first years of a child’s life are crucial, and there are numerous parameters which influence their emotional, cognitive and social development, be that positively or negatively. In recent years, this self-evident fact has manifested itself as an increase in the number of public programmes and investments aimed at improving the living conditions of very young children while striving to minimise the variety of risks to which they are exposed. These take the form of both service packages aimed directly at children and their families and improvements to the social framework conditions having an impact on their well-being, development and education. The aim of this colloquium is to identify and examine the relevance of these measures as well as to discover in particular which of them are effective at highlighting early vulnerabilities and curbing the emergence of inequalities, which can have considerable repercussions when a child starts school or at a later point in time. This spotlight on early childhood also represents an opportunity to explore this period from a children’s rights perspective. The abundance of knowledge regarding young children’s skills currently available will help us to better appreciate their “evolving capacities” as well as the possibility of recognising and exercising their participatory rights in accordance with their age and degree of maturity. In this way, the colloquium aims to draw lessons from current knowledge and good practices so that the best interests of young children, a relatively unexplored field to date, are at the heart of discussions regarding early childhood. 

The discussions at the colloquium will revolve around four topics:

  • Children and family policies: Innovative models in Switzerland and abroad
  • The current research situation in early childhood development and capacities
  • Early intervention and professional practices
  • The participation of young children in today’s society

These will allow more in-depth exploration of the following questions: What family policies and early prevention polices are needed to reduce inequalities right from the cradle? How can we guarantee inclusive and respectful education nurturing the evolving capacities of young children? What professional practices promote an environment conducive to each child’s development? How can we encourage the participation of young children while respecting their rights?

At the crossroads between the legal and political frameworks, educational practices, developmental approaches, sociological considerations of childhood and professional practices, this colloquium aims to establish a dialogue revolving around these questions and thematise the balance between the vulnerability and evolving capacities of children in an early childhood setting. 


The colloquium aims to:

  • organise a proactive interdisciplinary and interprofessional dialogue between the parties actively involved in early childhood, particularly in early prevention and the recognition of evolving capacities;
  • highlight good practices and the limits enabling or compromising respect of children’s rights where recognition of their evolving capacities is concerned;
  • consolidate scientific and legal understanding in this field;
  • provide specific tools to professionals working with these children and their families. 

Target audience:

This colloquium is aimed at (future) professionals working in the field of early childhood (educators, social workers, psychologists, teachers, healthcare professionals, lawyers and all other professionals involved with childhood issues), political decision-makers, parents of young children and academic representatives.

The presentations will be held in French (F), German (D) and English (E), with simultaneous interpretation provided for the other two languages.

Programme: To follow