Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe


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Collaborative Learning Communities – A Way to Expand Perspective

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    Being an educator for many years, one can easily be submerged into his or her world and worry about the daily grind of work. Year in and year out, children come and go, they move to different places and as they approach adulthood, you start questioning yourself, have I made an impact on the life of this person at all? I would say, I have been around in the field of education long enough to witness my students’ growth and development as they come closer to becoming the next drivers of the nation. Thanks to social media, you get a glimpse of people’s lives and see how they manoeuvre their lives. Many of them seem to have settled into the corporate world and could manage to live decent lives. Then I ask myself again, is this the measure of my success as a contributor to the development of young children? After all the resources shared in the courses, the points of view shared by colleagues, and issues and actions taken by organisations across the globe, I start to question,  “Why does poverty still seem to pervade? Have I contributed only to the small sector of the workforce who seem to mind their personal needs only? What values and mindset have a contributed to all these children I have taught?”

    Taking a wider perspective from the many resources that I got acquainted with – course instructors, course colleagues, communities and programs I looked into, as well as the web resources and organisations I connected with, education is not success-784350_1280just about the engagements taking place in the four walls of the classroom. It is beyond learning the concepts and skills, but how they are used in real-life. How will the students transform these values and understanding in a world beset with issues of poverty and inequality? At the same time, how can I, as an educator not be limited to the scope of my daily work? Professionalism is indeed about extending networks to learn from and with them; to be able to tackle issues that can not be approached by one or two people only. Like Castle (2009) says, “being a professional is a life-long project.” It is a continuous work of knowing, discovering the unknown, searching to make things unknown and acting upon them. What I thought I was doing right many years ago is different from the contexts now and therefore, must be acted upon following the times.  Advocacy is certainly an essential element of my life-long project. I wish to continue to raise my awareness and take action to create that impact not only amongst children I have taught, but on aspiring early childhood professionals I work with, so that positive outcomes will trickle down to the children and their families.

Reference:

Castle, K. (2009). What do early childhood professionals do? Dimensions of Early Childhood, 37(3), 4–9. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=2f304318-cfbd-429a-8c0d-a5ec8269e7e9%40sessionmgr4005&vid=1&hid=4209

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New Ideas and Insights on Early Childhood Education – Stories of Hope

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    Access, equity and quality are the three interwoven issues in early childhood care and education across the globe. Although contexts may differ – economically, politically and socially, we all aim to provide an education that will empower children and families both in the near and far future.

    The UNESCO is an advocate of programmes that endeavour to promote health and nutrition, security and learning as primary components to the holistic development of every child to reach their fullest potential. In terms of access and equity, it is deemed important that policies are geared towards alleviating the unequal opportunities for the underprivileged and poor while ensuring the education must be targeted for all children. There are some examples of measures taken by governments in different countries to demonstrate the impact of pro-poor initiatives. The Decision No. 161 of Vietnam focuses on the Preschool Education Development. There are four categories of early childhood services in the country. These are state, when families do not pay any fees; semi-state, when some fees are paid by families, but the government provides subsidy; and the people founded and private services that are non-public but are guided by the government in terms of providing standards on how to establish buildings and infrastructure, staffing and pedagogy and monitoring and evaluating of performances.  Teachers, who are believed to be at the forefront of delivering quality programs are given job security. Through the pro-poor and pro-teacher measures in Vietnam, the government can tackle issues of access and equality. Meanwhile, E-9 countries, high-density population, composed of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, India, China, Nigeria, Egypt, and Indonesia convene every two years to discuss and monitor early childhood education initiatives. From discussions, they unravel indicators of inequity brought about either by unequal distribution of resources or poor public investment on education.

    Quality  goes hand in hand with access. Components of quality vary from place to place. It includes the ratio of children and project-875699_1280adults in he program, professional qualification of program staff and the availability of resources. The OECD notes the guidelines and standards provided for parents, educators and administrators as the basis for programmes to operate. Accordingly,

    “the  aim is to encourage a shared sense of purpose between parents and early childhood         centres; to promote social and cultural values important for society; to ensure a certain unity     of standards; and to inform and facilitate communication between staff, parents and children (OECD, 2004).

The standards of quality programs in developing countries may not be closely comparable  to developed nations, but there are ways to achieve quality if local families, and educators can mobilize to explore resources that are available for use. As well, training can be strengthened to guide families and educators in communities to achieve quality.

    Access, equity, and quality can not be delivered without enough resources. Thus, investments and funding are essential in addressing these issues. The OECD provides examples of how different countries are creatively raising fund. The Payroll Taxes for Child Development in Colombia is one model on how to raise revenues without putting the burden on the common populace. By mandating all private and public institutions to deposit three percent of their payroll to the Colombian Institute for FamilyWelfare (ICBF), income is generated to pay for direct services for children. Singapore, on the other hand, has established their partnerships with non-public institutions in managing early childhood programs. By privatizing the operation of early childhood programs, the government does not have to manage to fund for salaries of staff, the establishment of buildings and their maintenance. However, when needed, the government provides capital support to convert buildings. Support is directly given to families who need assistance to pay for the program services. The government remains responsible for issuing licenses and ensuring that quality is maintained. It is also a requirement to employ staff who have specific credentials, to maintain quality. This model is established based on an economy that is already well-developed.

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    The models and strategies provided by the OECD from different countries whether developed or not  are manifestations that the issues of access, equity, quality and funding can be creatively addressed as long as there are policies that support the populace at different levels, an awareness of the available resources and how they can be utilised, and cooperative efforts from all the stakeholders in the community.

Reference:

UNESCO. (n.d.). Education. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/ strengthening-education-systems/early-childhood/

   


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Learning More About and Through ISSA

    The International Step by Step Association offers programs and services to support community programs in advocating for strong civil society to ensure high-quality care for all children of all ages especially the poor and disadvantaged, inclusion and diversity, and inclusion of families and communities participating in the learning and development of children. Their action pillars are geared towards access/equity, quality/professionalism, and parents/community.

    The access and equity pillar of ISSA applies a proactive approach to promoting equity and diversity by empowering road-sign-798175_1280educators through training that could transform individuals and become agents of change. Topics range from Identity, How Exclusion, Inequity, Discrimination, and Oppression Are Perpetuated, Language and Communication, and Giving Voice to Families and Communities.

    The quality and professionalism pillar includes access to Quality Resource tool to members of the organization and monitoring and evaluating program quality for continued improvement. A big component of the quality tool is the investment on teachers to deliver effective and successful education system. A support for professional development, responsible and responsive practices to cater for the needs of children and their families and an Early Childhood Development systems composed of individuals, teams and institutions are essential elements of quality programs. Part of ISSA’s initiatives to promote quality and professionalism is by providing a leaflet,family-43873_1280 “Give Your Child the Best Start: Laying the foundation quality learning” to parents that outlines their roles and responsibility in understanding the development of their children. It includes suggestions and recommendations on how parents can interact with their children.  Also, the leaflet for educators, “Early Childhood Educators Change Lives – You Can Make a Difference!” ISSA believes that “motivated and qualified educators who provide quality teaching impacts happy and well-adjusted children.”   

    ISSA’s efforts to empower educators and families to promote quality education for all children board-752051_1280demonstrate how much the education sector can contribute to improving the lives of children. Being a part of an organization like ISSA could provide ways on how to make one’s voice matter and have access to resources advocate for change.