The Bernard van Leer Foundation is an international grantmaking foundation based in The Hague.
Our mission is to improve opportunities for children up to age 8 who are growing up in socially and economically difficult circumstances. We see this both as a valuable end in itself and as a long-term means to promoting more cohesive, considerate and creative societies with equal opportunities and rights for all.
Latest news from the Bernard van Leer Foundation
By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 30 November 2011
In 1969 Joan Gantz Cooney asked the question, ‘How can emerging media help children learn?’ The answer was Sesame Street and Joan is commonly referred to as “Sesame Street’s Mother.” History is repeating itself. Today, we are wondering the same thing. This time not about television but apps, ipads, smart phones and other devises which are far more interactive and attractive, even addictive, to young children.
The Bernard van Leer Foundation recently invited Michael H. Levine to help us address this question. Dr. Levine at the Joan Ganz Cooney centre at Sesame Workshop is busy trying to help parents to navigate the new media space. Parents require navigation, children do not. Smart phones and ipads are an unintentional match made in heaven, really.
The Children's Ombudsman in The Netherlands today officially submitted a letter to the Dutch parliament pointing to statistics which show that child abuse in the Netherlands is a serious and persistent problem, and making proposals for which the Bernard van Leer Foundation and other civil society actors have been pressing. These include the formation of multidisciplinary teams of researchers and greater attention to the accumulation of risk factors which generally cause child abuse, such as poverty, unemployment and parents' mental health.
The latest edition of Early Childhood Matters, Early learning: Lessons from scaling up, is available for download (printed copies can be pre-ordered and will be despatched when available.) It looks at the question of how to scale up early learning provision without sacrificing quality.
Articles consider lessons that can be learned from national-level experiences in South Africa, Kenya, the US, the UK, Macedonia, Cuba, Chile and Peru, as well as examining lessons at an organisational level with input from Reggio Emilia in the US, India's SEWA, the Caribbean's FDCC, ISSA in Central/Eastern Europe, and the OECD.
Further articles discuss what "quality" means in the context of early education services, outline the World Bank's new SABER-ECD tool to collect evidence on what works, and ask how interactive technology can help to scale up early learning.
The US secretaries of health and education wrote to the New York Times on October 30th to reaffirm the Obama administration's commitment to early childhood education, in response to criticism in an op-ed by Nicholas D Kristof on 20th October.
As part of our involvement with the Cinekid film festival, BvLF invited Michael Levine of Sesame Workshop (the organisation behind the TV show Sesame Street) to The Netherlands to talk on the subject of whether interactive touchscreen technology such as smartphones and iPads can aid children's development. The Dutch newspaper De Pers published an interview with Michael Levine on October 20th; BvLF has translated it into English.
Professor Dr. Gabriel Motzkin from Jerusalem will lecture on Jewish Philanthropy and Jewish Identity: The Van Leer Family and Israel on Tuesday November 8th at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. Anyone interested in attending is invited to email Evenementen@jhm.nl. Admission is €5 including coffee. Doors open at 19.30 and the program will start at 20.00.
On October 12th our executive director Lisa Jordan was present at the opening of the 25th Cinekid film festival, the international festival for media and young children aged 4 to 12. Princess Maxima and Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands were also present.
The Bernard van Leer Foundation asked Lege Fles productions to create a short film called Living in Media for the opening ceremony, in which young kids talk about their experience with media. Two elementary schools in the Netherlands, Bos & Vaart in Haarlem and the Mgr. Bekkerschool in Amsterdam, participated in the video, which you can watch below.
We are pleased to pass on a call for proposals from the UBS Optimus Foundation for proposals on projects that link the education and health sectors to improve outcomes for young children. See details of the call in this pdf and visit the foundation's website for further information on how to apply.
By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 3 October 2011
Back to school time is one of the most stressful times for parents. Organising care for children can be challenging and in a place like the Netherlands it is more challenging than it should be. In The Hague, where I live, only two child care centres are linked with my children’s school and can pick them up for after-school care. Despite having hiked their fees, both have long waiting lists. That is not surprising. Parents who work full time cannot realistically run from the office to pick up their children at 3:00 every day so we will take what we can get. The situation for working parents with younger children looking for affordable quality childcare is comparable. It’s a challenge even if you have the income to pay costs that are on the rise due to a recent change in legislation by the Dutch government. Read more