Early Childhood Educational and Political Landscape
Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education
The National Partnership for Early Childhood Education (NPECE), spearheaded by the Australian Federal Government, has played a pivotal role in advancing childhood development. Through the regular release of annual reports (Colbung, Glover, Rau & Ritchie, 2007), these reports stand as a testament to the government’s commitment to achieving universal education by 2013.
The 2011 annual report on early childhood education in Western Australia outlines an array of ongoing and completed programs aimed at enhancing early childhood education. As asserted by Mitchell (2002), the quality of early childhood education hinges upon factors such as staff qualifications, remuneration, and child-staff ratios. Mitchell (2002) highlights the distinctions between child care providers in public and private early childhood centers, revealing disparities in staff qualifications between the two.
Brennan’s work (2007) underscores child care as an area of concern, prompting policy innovations in Australia and New Zealand. The accountability of states has come under scrutiny due to child care, sparking debates on its intersection with taxation and family payments. Addressing the challenges of enhancing childcare, the Council of Australian Governments (2009) acknowledges potential liquidity issues for institutions that fail to meet policy standards, exacerbated by the rising costs of early education. Some national governments, including that of New Zealand, fail to recognize the significance of early childhood education, evident in the employment of unqualified teachers in preschool and childminding facilities, potentially undermining educational quality for children.
The pursuit of social justice is evident in the Australian government’s efforts to enhance the quality of early childhood education. In the interest of equity, strategies are employed to ensure that children from diverse cultural backgrounds have access to services, including the preservation of their languages and cultures. However, implementing such policies faces hurdles due to a lack of appreciation for diversity within government and society (Ebbeck & Waniganayake, 2003). Notably, failure to support the cultural identities of Aboriginal children, such as language learning and cultural awareness, can have detrimental effects on their educational experience. Overcoming these challenges requires recognizing and respecting social justice, which in turn impacts children’s cognitive development. Teachers, guided by the constructivist theory, play a crucial role in facilitating this process (Colbung, Glover, Rau & Ritchie, 2007). By enabling students to construct their own understanding of reality, educators can foster more effective learning outcomes (Comber & Hill, 2000).
Ho, J., & Chan, Y. H. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood education in Australia: A systematic review. Early Childhood Education Journal, 50(4), 621-632.
McCallum, J., & Williams, K. (2021). The political economy of early childhood education in Australia: A critical review. Critical Studies in Education, 62(3), 359-374.
Ritchie, S., & Edwards, S. (2023). The role of early childhood education in addressing social inequality: A review of the literature. Early Childhood Education Journal, 51(1), 1-12.
Brennan, D. (2007). The ABC of child care politics. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 42(2), 213-225.
Colbung, M., Glover, A., Rau, C., & Ritchie, I. (2007). Indigenous Australian Perspectives in Early Childhood Education. In L. Keesing-Styles & H. Hedges (Eds.), Theorizing early childhood practice: Emerging dialogues. Castle Hill, NSW: Pademelon Press.
Comber, B., & Hill, S. (2000). Socio-economic disadvantage, literacy and social justice: Learning from longitudinal case study research. Australian Educational Researcher, 27(3), 79-97.
Council of Australian Governments (2009). Investing in the early years – a national early childhood development strategy. Web.
Ebbeck, M., & Waniganayake, M. (2003). Pathways to policy: Influencing and achieving positive outcomes. Sydney: Elsevier.
Mitchell, L. (2002). Differences between community-owned and privately-owned early childhood education and care centers: A review of evidence. Web.