I have been fortunate to communicate with my International contacts Jane in Kenya and Lisa in Germany. Some of the consequences from these contacts have been the knowledge that all early education professional have the welfare of the children as their primary goal.
During my interactions with my international contacts I came to the conclusion that teachers and early childhood teachers especially, have the same concerns and it did not matter as to whether they were from the developed world or the developing world. The three consequences of learning about the international early childhood field were:
- I was made aware of the fact that poverty issues are universal. When I spoke to my German contact Lisa, she made me aware of the fact that poverty existed in Germany amongst the immigrants, refugees and the growing number of young unwed parents. This impacted their ability to afford early childhood education for their children. The German government provides free education for children starting in elementary school but does not provide funding for early childhood education. This was echoed by my Kenyan contact Jane who also stated that the Kenya government provides free education for elementary school but not for early childhood programs. This means that the poor in Kenya cannot afford to send their children to early childhood programs. Both these contacts were frustrated by the government’s inability to ensure that early childhood programs were accessible to all. The U.S. has a similar problem with poverty and the early childhood education programs. Although the U.S provides subsidies for early childhood education, there are not enough programs to accommodate the families that may be eligible for subsidies. Many have long wait lists.
- The second issue was the remuneration of early childhood teachers. Both my contacts felt that teachers of early childhood programs were not given the recognition that they deserved. They were paid less than the elementary school teachers and this led to frequent teacher turnover which is not good for students and the programs. A lot of parents looking for early childhood programs usually fact in the teacher turnover issue in their decisions when choosing an early childhood program for their children. The same problem is found here in the U.S. where the pay is not commensurate with the amount of work that the teachers put in in these early childhood programs.
- The third issue was the issue of equity and excellence in care. All contacts agree that it is important to have the same standards applied and expected of all early childhood programs to enable all children all over the world to have access to quality early childhood programs.
The main goal that we should all strive for is to keep connected with our international contacts and continue to share our views and issue concerning the early childhood field. It is important to keep in touch with the different communities and cultures as this will help us to be more open and informed.
I must add that I have enjoyed reading all my colleagues posts and have learnt a lot from them.