Final blog assignment

Upon reflecting, I have thoroughly enjoyed studying this module. I have learnt about so many issues and trends that have either a positive or negative impact on children, families, early childhood educators and early childhood education as a whole.

As a result of thinking back to when I began this module until now, I have seen an immense growth in my knowledge and understanding of the international early childhood field in my personal and professional development.

I have personally and professionally been inspired to make my family, friends and colleagues more informed about the issues that are affecting society and how we can all make a difference in small or big ways. I have learnt to take responsibility to help and assist those who are in need or affected and not ‘pass the buck’. I was also reminded that everyone has a story to tell and every child and family that comes into my classroom, has a story to tell and how important it is for me to meet them where they are at and try my best to support, care and create a safe environment for them at school regardless of their situation.

I have also learnt when speaking to my international contacts, to not assume that they do not experience the same issues, where in actual fact they do, there is commonality and that there are inequities in education across all countries. I was certainly taken aback learning how so many children and families still in this day in age, in many countries are treated unfairly due to the colour of their skin, their culture, their economic status and so forth. It is so sad to also learn that educators are not given the support they need in schools, as government do not consider certain areas to be worthy of support. Therefore the only way this can all change, is if we as educators advocate for each other, the early childhood field and children and families.

Due to all the knowledge and learning I have gained in the module I have created a goal for myself to continue to be internationally minded and aware of the issues and trends affecting children, families, educators and early childhood education to advocate and ensure care and equity is given to all because knowledge is power and with the necessary knowledge, we can slowly overcome the different issues we all face in the early childhood field.

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Getting to know my International Contacts- Part 3

This week, Jenny from Australia shared a lot with me with regards to current issues, her hopes, dreams and so forth and I was very encouraged! Here is what she shared:
  • What issues regarding quality and early childhood professionals are being discussed where you live and work?

Jenny had said that the main issues right now amongst Early Childhood Professionals in Australia are around equal pay as preschool teachers currently get paid about 20% less than teachers in older age group schools. Another issue she had mentioned is the introduction of assessment and ratings which began 5 year’s ago and therefore is still in its teething process, however Jenny had mentioned that the government has finally realised the acknowledgement and recognition of early childhood education.

  • What opportunities and/or requirements for professional development exist?

Jenny had mentioned that she is required to have 500 hours of professional development in a space of 2 years and unfortunately, where she lives, which is a rural area teachers don’t get the same opportunities as the teachers in city areas but they can now access training via video links and external studies.

  • What are some of your professional goals?
 Jenny said that her professional goals are to keep on top of new theories and educational practices and to provide the best early childhood education to her children she teaches.
  • What are some of your professional hopes, dreams, and challenges?

Jenny mentioned that she is 52 years of age and so her career will come to an end soon. Therefore she she hopes that she is remembered for a job well done and for making a difference.

She had also mentioned that there are many challenges she has come across working in a rural area and the one challenge is not always having the resources that the city counterparts had/have.

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Unfortunately my other international contact, Jen from New Zealand has a family crisis, so she was not able to reply to me in time, however I will update my post when she does get back to me.

Sharing Web Resources

1http://www.globalfundforchildren.org/

As far as I could see and read there were very few outside links on the website of Global Fund for children other than links to the ‘Save the Children’ organisation, which I will discuss later on. However there were many articles on the Global Fund for Children website about different issues children and families around the world are dealing with, such as safety, child trafficking, migrants and refugees, war and conflict. The issue I chose to research more about is education.

I was extremely concerned when I read that approximately 124 million children and adolescents worldwide are not attending school, 168 million children are engaged in child labour, which are at risk of being denied quality education and 50% of children who do not attend school, live in conflict areas.

I was, however, relieved when I saw that the Global Fund for Children create micro-enterprise programs in low socio-economic areas around the world, where they help parents gain economic freedom to send their children to school instead of work. Global Fund for Children achieve this by :

  • Opening rural schools that are culturally relevant and create learning opportunities that are traditional with few resources.
  • Supplementing learning where tutoring centers, libraries and Saturday schools are opened to help children succeed and remain in school.
  • Opening mobile classrooms that reach out to rural children, children who live in slums and on the streets.
  • Specifically educating girls to have the necessary knowledge about how to lead healthy and productive lives.
  • Establishing bilingual education where indigenous children, migrants and refugees receive equal quality education.
  • Lastly establishing night schools to provide education to those children who work during the day.

Furthermore, I was excited to read that the Global Fund for Children measure their success rate by tracking their partners’ success and growth by :

  • looking at the amount of children enrolled in school for the first time.
  • looking at how partners’ ensure that children advance to the next grade level,
  • how they rehabilitate and integrate children into mainstream schools,
  • how the youth transition into employment and training,
  • lastly how safe environments are created for girls in which to learn in.

2.jpegUpon looking at the newsletter I received this week from Global Fund for Children, there was a link to a YouTube video explaining where some of the donations from the Global Fund for children go to. One of the organisations where some of the money goes to is’Save the Children’ Their video is about the organisations aim to reach and save every last child. Doing whatever it takes to save every last child.

Additionally I found an article in the ‘Save the Children’ website that specifically speaks about and contributes to early childhood education in the area of equity and excellence in early care and education: Individual Philanthropy: Early Childhood Education. I was grateful to see that ‘Save the children’ organisation touched on a lot of what we have learnt in our module and I especially liked this statement made in the article “The earlier we invest in a child’s life, the higher the return on that investment for us all.” I liked this statement because the word ‘investment’ did not come across as one-sided but rather that we all have a place in investing in children’s education in order for us all to benefit. I was especially excited to read that ‘Save the Children’ places a high priority on giving children under age 5 a strong start, so they are ready to begin school. They have been developing and supporting early childhood development programs for more than 20 years, while at the same time advocating and influencing policies in education that benefit young children and their families.

I was happy to read in the article by ‘Save the children’ organization that a lot is being done about the amount of children between the ages of 3-6 years that are being deprived access to education. It reminded me of what we have been learning about with regards to equity and quality of education. ‘Save the children’ are trying their best to close the gap of educational inequities between urban and rural, wealthy and poor, religious and ethnic groups worldwide. I further learnt that there are even bigger gaps between educational programs around the world, where 98%  of Korean children who are 4 years old attend preschool, where as 26% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa are in enrolled in preschool. Furthermore, ‘Save the Children’ organisation had also mentioned and re-iterated what we have learnt ,that not all early childhood programs are created equally and there are huge disparities in the quality of these programs where the poorest children have the most obstacles to overcome access to early learning, yet have the most to gain when participating in these programs. As a result one of the organisations many aims is to make sure that children around the world receive equal, high-quality education.

 

Getting to Know my International Contacts—Part 2

This week I had great conversations with Jenny from Australia about which issues related to excellence and equity are at the forefront of professional discussions in her country. Unfortunately I had not heard back from my other contact Jen from New Zealand however when I do, I will update this post as it still remains relevant and insightful.

Jenny had mentioned a few issues been discussed in her country at the moment, namely:

  • Maintaining and reflecting on the QIP – Quality Improvement Plan which helps providers self-assess their performance in delivering quality education and care and to plan for future improvements. In this plan providers document the strengths of their services and recognise areas for improvement. QIP also helps providers reflect on the unique circumstances of their service and its community, where educators, children, families and the community should also be involved in the self-assessment process. Jenny had said that the QIP is new and it has only been in place for a few years, however since implementing the QIP it has helped government to finally recognise that there is such a thing as early childhood education. Therefore I had asked Jenny why is this so and she simply answered that preschools were previously not taken seriously and it has now become so serious that it has become an election issue- which reminds me of last week’s learning about politicians influence in early childhood education.
  • Jenny had also mentioned that the Australian government are changing their funding process, as city areas are well funded in comparison to rural areas, where Jenny currently teaches. I asked Jenny why is this so and she explained that education funding in Australia is done by a ratio of the number of children and how many hours the government think children should attend preschool. She further added that due to the fact that the government still have not worked out how many hours are suited for children to be in preschool and that rural areas are not as populated as city centres they are penalised and lose funding, as they do not meet the criteria.

Now how ridiculous is this?

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I finally heard back from Jen in New Zealand and surprisingly it seems as if the issues they are currently speaking about in New Zealand are the issues we have studied and learnt about in our module.

Jen had mentioned that there is an ongoing discussion, amongst early childhood educators, academics and the government about ‘school readiness’, academic standards and assessments. The early childhood curriculum of NZ/Aotearoa is Te Whariki, which has been in place since 1996. It is a holistic document, underpinned by socio-cultural theory. The framework for assessment is via learning stories which focus on children’s learning dispositions. Both the curriculum and assessment framework have been challenged in recent years. Jen also mentioned that there has become an increased focus on accountability and measurement in early childhood education in New Zealand, for example National Standards (focusing on reading, writing and mathematics) are now the formal assessment measure for Primary School aged children. However Jen mentioned that they have drawn criticism and praise alike and currently there is a move to introduce similar assessment measures into the early childhood education sector which has been met with concerns that it will undermine the holistic nature of Te Whariki, and the play based learning which currently exists, which early childhood academics and educators fear that this a “push down curriculum” and deficit based model of assessment.

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