Ms. Sherilyn Sia, a Master of Distance Education (MDE) graduate offered by the Faculty of Education (FEd) of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), served as one of the speakers during the Second International Biennial Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) held at the International Conference Center in the Republic of Seychelles on 21-23 February 2019.

Anchored on the theme “Big Data for Small Children: Monitoring Holistic Early Childhood Development”, Ms. Sia shared her knowledge and experience on improving children’s safety and increasing parental engagement through data management in childcare centers in Singapore. In her presentation, she imparted recommendations on how to build a reliable ECCE data system, with emphasis on taking further steps beyond the analysis and interpretation of data by translating them into action in order to ensure the quality of early childhood education services.

Highlighting the promising practices in the field of ECCE, Ms. Sia delivered her presentation to more than 300 local and international delegates who attended the event. Other topics such as frameworks, global challenges, and critical issues concerning the management of ECCE-related data were discussed by renowned experts. Her involvement in the conference will also be one of the many contributions that will be adopted by less developed countries through the Joint Framework for Action in building resilient, data-driven systems of ECCE.

Organized by the Republic of Seychelles and the International Bureau of Education (IBE) – UNESCO, the ECCE served as a venue for the development of holistic and effective ECCE policy and programs through the provision of professional training and support for big data management stakeholders.

Currently, Ms. Sia works as an early childhood educator based in Singapore. One of her notable works is Edubuntu (now ElementaryOS), an open source software that aims to enhance children’s learning in different areas. She is also involved in creating and designing online training courses for teachers and has written various research articles, one of which she was able to present at the 19th Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (PECERA) International Conference on 6-8 July 2018 in Hilton Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Ms. Sia’s achievements and interest in the field of early childhood education were largely influenced by her MDE education in UPOU. She recalled how her MDE experience equipped her with the necessary skills and confidence that helped her to create positive impactful contributions in her chosen career path. She also expressed her gratitude to her professors and to the whole UPOU community.

On another note, she identified time management as one of the challenges she faced as a working student. Even though she had to fulfill two roles at the same time, being a pre-school teacher and a distance learner, she noted that the accessibility of the courses through her mobile phone helped her maximize her schedule.

Ms. Sia also shared pieces of advice to current and future UPOU students, encouraging them to never give up despite the challenges and setbacks. She reminded them to always go back to the reason why they enroll in UPOU. In her own words, she remarked, “Remember that the taste of success is sweet when you work hard for it! Keep going!”