Keynote speakers

Paul Leseman, Sarah Klaus & Michael Feigelson to deliver keynote address at ISSA Conference 2019

We are thrilled to announce Prof. dr. Paul Leseman, Head of Department Social and Behavioral Science (Utrecht University), Sarah Klaus, the Director of the Early Childhood Program at the Open Society Foundations, and Michael Feigelson, the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Executive Director as Keynote Speakers at ISSA Conference 2019.

Prof. dr. Paul Leseman - Utrecht University

Value-based regulation of early childhood education and care for equity and inclusiveness


The early childhood education and care (ECEC) field across the world has undergone many changes in the past decades, with partly promising but partly also threatening developments. There is definitively a trend towards more unification and integration, and also the availability and accessibility of ECEC have increased substantially in many countries, at least for the 3- to 6-year-olds. These developments reflect the increasing awareness that high quality ECEC can contribute importantly to tackling pertinent societal issues such as educational inequality and social exclusion. At the same time countries are struggling with the governance and funding of ECEC. Increased privatization and marketization have contributed to the expansion of ECEC provision and have led to increased access for all children, but major challenges remain regarding the quality and inclusiveness of ECEC and related support services. Especially the inclusion of children from migrant and ethnic minority communities is an urgent, still unresolved issue, calling for policies that can eliminate financial and cultural barriers. Most countries nowadays have hybrid ECEC systems, with public and private organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, operating in a partly harmonized market. Whereas governance and harmonization strategies still predominantly focus on regulation of costs-related structural quality characteristics, evidence suggests that value-based governance, giving statutory prominence to children’s rights and to the principles of equity and (cultural) inclusiveness, together with decentralization of responsibilities to the local level holds the best promise for reaching out to all children while maintaining high quality.


About Paul Leseman:

Paul Leseman obtained his MSc (major in psychology, minor in linguistics) at the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in the social sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Read more

Watch Prof. dr. Paul Leseman's Keynote on regulating equal and inclusive early childhood education and care in Europe


Download Prof. dr. Paul Leseman's Keynote presentation on regulating equal and inclusive early childhood education and care in Europe

Sarah Klaus - Director of the Early Childhood Program in the Open Society Foundations


20/20 Vision:  The Early Childhood Development Field in Focus. 
Assessing the Past and Anticipating the Future

The year 2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of the International Step by Step Association (ISSA), as well as the 25th Anniversary of the Step by Step Program, the flagship early childhood education program of the Open Society Foundations that inspired ISSA’s establishment. Anniversaries challenge us both to look backwards at where we have come from and to look forwards to anticipate the future.  Using the theme of ‘nurturing’ as a framework, this keynote will explore what motivated the emergence of early childhood as a global endeavour and how it is evolving.  Together we’ll make predictions about what will shape the field in the next 20 years.  It will challenge all of us to answer the question:  where am I in this movement, and what role do I want to play in its future.

About Sara Klaus:

Sarah Klaus is director of the Early Childhood Program (ECP) at the Open Society Foundations. ECP advances the rights of children and families that are left behind by empowering parents, professionals and civil society organizations and by building socially-inclusive, transparent systems.  Since 2006, she has expanded the program’s original focus in Central Eastern Europe and Eurasia to include Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East. Read more

Watch Sarah Klaus' Keynote on the future of early childhood development

Download Sarah Klaus' Keynote presentation on the future of early childhood development

Michael Feigelson - Executive Director Bernard van Leer Foundation

If you could experience the city from 95cm, what would you change? 

The keynote explores an initiative of the Bernard van Leer Foundation called Urban95, which is working with city leaders around the world to implement reforms focused on babies, toddlers and the people who take care of them every day. The focus will be on the challenges and the importance of going beyond the traditional realm of service delivery and working with new stakeholders such as city planners, architects, engineers and transportation officials.

About Michael Feigelson:

Michael Feigelson has spent the last 15 years focused on working with governments, civil society and business to improve opportunities for children and youth. Read more

Watch Michael Feigelson's Keynote If you could experience the city from 95 cm, what would you change?

Download Michael Feigelson's Keynote presentation If you could experience the city from 95 cm, what would you change?

News on the Keynote Speakers will follow soon!