Participants of the Sub-regional workshop on Early Childhood Education Teacher Development in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) review the ECE Teacher Framework.
There is a need to design a child-friendly environment that considers not only the socio-emotional and physical needs of children, but spiritual and intellectual needs as well, said Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE).
She made the comments at the Sub-regional workshop on Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teacher Development in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the Novotel, Nadi in the Fiji Islands on 21 June, 2017.
Dr Kedrayate was speaking as participants reviewed the Teacher Competency Framework.
She stated that in the current Teacher Competency Framework, there is also a need for clarity with regard to the use of a child’s native language, as this can also refer to dialects in the Fiji context.
According to Dr Kedrayate, the use of the term ‘mother tongue’ is too general and can be confusing particularly in the case of Fiji.
The general competencies of the Teacher Competency Framework include: understanding the holistic growth, development and learning of the child; facilitating growth, development, and learning of the child;establishing a nurturing, inclusive and safe environment;promoting health, nutrition, safety and well-being;engaging parents and families as partners in ECE;networking and collaborating with different stakeholders to promote ECE; and ensuring continuous personal growth and professional development.
Some of the issues relating to early childhood education that were discussed during the workshop included the creation of a safe and conducive learning environment for children in ECE; the need to include equity keeping in mind that disability inclusiveness is also part of the education system; the need to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children particularly when it comes to issues like disaster awareness; the need to educate children on the importance of having nutritious meals; the need to have a practical and realistic ECE framework; and the need for the visibility of language as a learning tool in the ECE framework;
Participants included experts from The University of the South Pacific (USP), the project advisory group, representatives of the 15 Pacific SIDS (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and regional and global development partners, such as ARNEC, UNICEF, UNESCO Bangkok, Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Education (PRC4ECE), and the Ministry of Education, Fiji.
According to the workshop concept notes, there is a clear shift of focus from universal primary education to lifelong learning in the SDG4 – Education 2030 agenda. Early childhood care and education covers the period below the age of eight, and quality ECE learning experience not only play a pivotal role in a more effective and successful transition into primary education but it is the bedrock of lifelong learning and development.
The countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific SIDS have made quantitative gains in ECE enrolment but still need to strive for a qualitative leap through professionalisation and capacity development of ECE teachers/practitioners.
The ECE teachers’ competency depends much on teacher preparation, support and continued professional development.
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