Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

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

Research Around the World

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Sustainability is a term that is predominantly used in development work for the past thirty years. The initial realization of environmental-awareness-679668_1280providing adequate food, proper housing, and safe water was discussed in a meeting among industrialized and developing nations. Recognizing the need to revitalize the connection between humanity and nature led to the onset of UN global institutions (UN, 2011). For twenty years, the symbiotic relationship between nature – the resources it provides and humanity was magnified by the escalating problems on poverty. Thus, the need to take care of the environment to achieve sustainability was finally conceptualized during the first UN Convention on Environment and Development in 1992.

The idea of sustainability has rippled through the early childhood education sectors in the Sub-Saharan region when the Early
Childhood Development Virtual University (ECDVU) was established in collaboration with The University of Victoria in Canada. The conception of this project was borne out from the concept of “brain drain” when many scholars who go to universities in industrialized nations do not come back to serve their community after finishing their degree. Reversing the concept to “brain-skills-835747_1280gain” to build the capacity to meet the needs of early childhood leadership and development in Africa, a comprehensive method of educating nominated individuals who would work with development initiatives in their local areas was created. Choosing participants is part of an inter-committee on early childhood development screening of participants interested in the identified early childhood goals of a country.  The program employs innovative approaches to learning. It includes face-to-face and distance learning methods including two to three-week seminars; web-based learning; video-conferencing; a “community of learners” strategy within cohort countries. As the UN (2011) indicates,

          “a key feature of the program is that the students continue to live and work in their own country while they study. The     cohort will be able to apply what they are learning directly to their daily work; this will benefit the work of their employer and will contribute to ECD capacity development within and across participating countries.

Contextualizing the concepts by investigating and applying them in their local  communities requires research studies  to understand local contexts and explore ways to promote early childhood development. One of these research was conducted in malawi-80853_1280Malawi. Based on previous finding so of research and conducting his own as well, Day (2004) reported on “A Community-driven Rural Early Childhood Development (ECD) Project, with Emphasis on Culturally and Developmentally Appropriate Exploratory Learning Concepts”.  This project explored ways on how to improve learning in poor communities when a large percentage of the population drop-out of school. Exploring the many aspects of learning by employing strategies  such as using local resources co-constructed by families and other community members, the importance of using the environment to explore concepts and co-construct knowledge with the children, as well as inclusion of the parents in the training on how to engage their children. These were corroborated by surveys to gain a better understanding of the present predicament to bring about a change to achieve sustainable early childhood development in the local community. Through this project, the community was engaged in deciding what they want for their children; teacher training was conducted through modelling, observations, and reflective practice; learning kits composed of local materials were constructed; and an early childhood development shelter was constructed to promote experiential approach to learning.

Many projects that were completed through a combination of studies through experimental work and research include “Involving Fathers in Early Childhood Care and Development” in Nigeria, “Professional Associations in Support of Child Well-namibia-344890_1280Being in Uganda: Establishment of ECD Newsletter Series’” in Uganda and “Assessing the Influence of Different Early Childhood Development Models On Pre-School Children’s School Readiness in Kenya” among many others. These studies were completed through the funding support of different organizations.  The World Bank, Unicef, CIDA, the Norwegian Educational Trust Fund, and Bernard Van Leer Foundation are just some of the organizations who have supported the ECDVU program.

The news and publications section of the website provides more details and stories of the ECDVU journey. Going through every topic of studies conducted in the Sub-Saharan Africa gives a picture of hope that development can be sustained through comprehensive research studies to identify and analyze issues and present viable solutions.

References:

Early Childhood Development Virtual University. (2005). About ECDVU in Sub-Saharan Africa. Retrieved from http://www.ecdvu.org/ssa/about.php

United Nations. (2011). The History of Sustainable Development in the United Nations. Retrieved from http://www.uncsd2012.org/history.html

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Author: pamcee70

My name is Pam Castillo. I have been in the field of education for 24 years now. Although I have taught some levels in grade school, I have spent most of my years teaching children aged two to six years old. I am always amazed by the interactions I have every day with children. In an environment where children feel safe, they are confident to explore and make discoveries. These experiences prepare them for the bigger challenges in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of the learning journey of these young children especially if they still come to see me and reminisce the years we worked together.

5 thoughts on “Research Around the World

  1. Pam,

    You always post very insightful and informative information on your blog. It has really been a joy to follow you this year. I’m especially interested in the research on “Involving Fathers in Early Childhood Care and Development” in Nigeria. I do not know much about the family culture in Africa, but I never got the impression that fathers played a huge role in child rearing. Do you think you would be interested in going to Africa or Malawi to participate in similar projects?

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    • Thank you, Sheymirra! I agree, father involvement can vary in different cultures. With research studies conducted about involvement of fathers in different places, I think the absolute contention about the benefits of paternal contribution to child rearing will soon be global in range.

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  2. Pam,
    Your blog has piqued my interest in learning more about Africa. I chose to view the Australian website and found many similarities to U.S. websites, but it would be great to learn about places that are much different. The section you wrote about how they are encouraging people to return to help their local communities seems like a wonderful idea, one that we do not necessarily see in the U.S., but we probably don’t have a need to as much as it makes sense in Africa. Thanks for opening my eyes!
    Kenny

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    • I am glad Kenneth that the blog has provided you with a different perspective. I initially contemplated on the Australian and European sites, but I changed my mind as I want to see the successes they have achieved in regions where there are more challenging issues.

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  3. Pam, what an interesting and thorough blog post. It seems that there are ongoing research projects in place in Africa which may greatly benefit communities. It is inspiring to hear of such projects!

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