Mrs Kelesi Whippy, USP Assistant lecturer presents research findings revealing that there is a high demand for quality ECEC programmes,
Recent research findings by The University of the South Pacific (USP) reveal there is a high demand for quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programmes, based on the varying socio-cultural contexts of young children, particularly to cater for the different age groups up to age five (5).
The research was the result of a study titled, ‘Towards improving partnership in Education: re-examining the economics of education in general and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in particular for Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).’
Findings were presented by Mrs Kelesi Whippy, Project Team Leader at the 2017 Conference on Moving Forward with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Early Childhood at the Denarau, Nadi from September 19-21, 2017.
Senior lecturers Dr Lavenia Tiko and Dr. Neelesh Gounder from the School of Education (SOed) and School of Economics (SOE) respectively, are members of the project team.
Mrs Whippy, a PhD candidate, capitalised on five main findings that correlated with the Conference theme on ‘The Pasifika Call to Action on Early Childhood Development’.
She explained that the SRT project is based on the assumption that the SIDS regional policy makers will benefit through a study that looks at the economic perspectives of ECEC, particularly on the demands, financing and the provisions of such education.
Mrs. Whippy lauded the efforts of the USP Research Office for the tremendous support in mobilising financial resources to carry out the study in the selected SIDS.
She also acknowledged four (4) of the 12 USP member countries namely the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Vanuatu, Kiribati and Fiji for the support in enabling the team to carry out the investigation with practitioners, who were involved in raising young children at the ECEC level, during the time of the study.
Dr. Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) was also commended for her support as manager of the USP Edu-care Centre, being the model Centre for the Pacific region.
The findings, according to Mrs Whippy, also revealed that the extent to which pre-schools receive financial support from stakeholders to operationalise their day-to-day routine, was significantly low.
“However, the low percentages are not indicative of non-support per se, due to the fact that most Centres in the respective contexts were receiving financial support from other agencies other than government funding,” she stated.
She stressed that ECEC needs more funding assistance coupled with an echoed sentiment that public funding for quality ECEC programmes is inadequate.
“In particular, it was revealed that a high-turnover workforce due to under paid workers impedes stability and quality of programmes. Also, a powerful message received was that effective early intervention strategies is crucial to improve the standard of living and overall well-being of society,” she noted.
The research participants fully agreed that the government, as the regulatory body, needs to develop strategies to make quality ECEC accessible, affordable and sustainable.
“Finally, there is strong consensus from the participants that it is imperative to educate families and the wider stakeholders about the benefits of quality ECEC programmes, which aid young children’s learning and development towards achieving desirable educational as well as economic outcomes,” Mrs Whippy added.
The research was conducted through one of USP’s Strategic Research Theme (SRT) projects, in collaboration with the School of Education (SoED) and the School of Economics (SoE).
The conference saw history made when Pacific leaders pledged their support for early childhood development, to give every child in the Pacific the best start to life.
For the first time in the Pacific region, government officials, including Ministers of Education and Ministers of Finance, from 15 Pacific Island Countries came together to declare their support for young children and provide them with the opportunity to grow and lead happy, healthy and productive lives.
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