Ireland’s first early childhood research centre opens at DCU

20 Nov 2018

Image: © dglimages/

DCU is now home to a new early childhood research centre that will attempt to better understand and develop the latest education techniques.

At a launch event last night (19 November), the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, TD, launched the Early Childhood Research Centre (ECRC) at Dublin City University’s (DCU) Institute of Education.

Reportedly the country’s first ever dedicated research centre for early childhood, it will be led by Prof Mathias Urban following his appointment as the Desmond Chair in Early Childhood Education at DCU in September 2017. Urban is considered a leading figure globally in the field of early childhood research and has made significant contributions in international early childhood policy and professional practice.

Under its remit, the centre aims to further research that will have a transformative impact on public policy and practice in this sector. The ECRC is expected to continue leading the early childhood policy brief during Japan’s presidency of the 2019 G20 summit and will follow the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals plan for high-quality early childhood development.

“It is important that we understand what are the real experiences of all children and families in early childhood settings and beyond,” Urban said at the launch.

“We need to address questions such as what experiences do we as society want them to have now and in the future? What kind of services can and should we provide, locally and nationally, to value our collective responsibility to care for and educate young children, and who should provide them?”

Speaking more specifically on the centre’s goals, he added: “Our ambition is to systematically connect the global and local at all levels of the early childhood system, [including] practice, policy and research.

“We aim to respond to developments in the Irish early childhood education care system and to place Ireland firmly on the global map of international early childhood education research.”

Meanwhile, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith welcomed the addition to the university, saying: “The establishment of the centre is another important milestone and a reflection of our commitment to the area of early childhood education. As educators, we are fully cognisant of the critical nature of the early childhood years and the impact of experiences during these formative years.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic