23 SES 01 A, Early Childhood Education
The emerging processes of globalization have transformed the political and economic contexts in which public policies have been developed. In last decades policy has been implemented in terms of neoliberalism and New Public Management (NPM). These ‘templates’ have been developed over time but centered on management representing a broadly coherent but not inflexible principles and mechanisms such as accountability, market-orientation, assessment and evaluation and they have had effects on the governance and the implementation of education/schooling (Rizvi & Lindgrad 2010.) These policy trends have affected also on early childhood education and care (ECEC).
In the transnational sphere of ECEC discourses form contradictionary lines. When the importance of ECEC stress economic and political agenda the importance of ECEC is seen in employment policy with enabling mothers’ to participate to workforce and at the same to ensure future effective workers by promoting children’s learning and development (European Commission 2014; OECD 2007; World Bank 2003, 2007). Aside with this we have strong discourse and international agreements about social inclusion and equality in education guided by international actors like UNESCO (e.g. UNESCO 1994, 2000). Furthermore, the humanity discourse challenge the future based aspects and tries to ensure good childhood with the respect of children as they live now and what they are today – not what they will become. This child-centered discourse is rooted to the Child Convention and children´s rights (UN 1999).
ECEC services are understood more and more as an enterprise or business providing private commodities within a competitive private market, trading these commodities to individual ”consumers”, parents. This process is part of the neoliberal belief in market rationality. This belief has made ECEC services economic and subject to the logic of commodification, consumerism, calculation and contract. (Dahlberg & Moss 2006, 29.) Many aspects of internal marketization have been introduced surreptitiously in the name of quality and development (Lundahl et. al 2013, 498). As Gallagher (2017, 2) notes the market is purposed to be efficient managerial technique of meeting the changing needs of parents in dynamic working environments. However, there is significant variation in how markets are funded, structured and organized in national ECEC policy context.
In the governance of Finnish ECEC the state and municipalities have their own roles. Since the 1990s Finnish education system has shifted from centralised to decentralised. Minimum standards of ECEC are regulated by law, for instance, requirements for the staff-child ratio and the staff qualifications. (Act 36/1973 (8.5.2015/580)). In governing ECEC municipalities have looked to market solutions. In Finland ECEC is offered on the basis of a quasi-market. About 25 percent of day-care institutions are nowadays private, attended by 12 percent of children (THL 2014). However, these figures vary across 311 Finnish Municipalities (Riitakorpi et. al 2017) and the private markets have been a rapid growing sector in Finland.
In this presentation we are interested in privatization and marketization of Finnish ECEC focusing on municipal level. We ask how marketization and privatization is understood, justified and framed on local ECEC policy texts? How local administrative actors of ECEC perceive current policy, marketization and privatization of ECEC services? How they find policy outcomes in terms of inequality of ECEC in and through privatization?
The data for our research consists of 1) municipal administrative documents of ECEC, 2) web-portals of municipal ECEC services and 3) in-depth interviews with local key actors in administration and governance of ECEC in one Finnish municipality. Interviewees represent different administrative positions: head of the ECEC-sector, members of education committee, and managers of ECEC-institutions from different areas. In this paper, we approach our research material through policy analysis. The focus of critical policy analysis varies, it can be, for instance, on values, on problems constructed, on policy production process, on policy implementation or on policy outcomes (Rizvi & Lindgard 2010). In order to answer our research questions, we utilized discourse analysis of policy texts – administrative documents of ECEC and policy messages of web-portals. In this paper we examine discourses in relation to political and economic processes. Furthermore we performed qualitative content analysis of interview material to understand local policy processes and policy outcomes seen by key administrative actors of ECEC.
Private organizations have become aside with public ECEC-institutions especially in our case municipality. This change has proceeded silently and until recently the discussion about the right to do profit with small children has came up little by little. We expect that our case municipality has opened to business interests. Our results reveal most likely contradictory views and policy messages.
Act on Early Childhood Education and Care 36/1973 (8.5.2015/580). Dahlberg, G. & Moss, P. 2005. Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education. London. Routledge Falmer Gallagher, A. 2017. The business of care: Marketization and the new geographies of childcare. Progress in Human Geography, 1–17. Lundahl, L., Arrman, I., Holm, S. & Lundström, U. 2013. Educational marketisation the Swedish way. Education Inquiry 4(3), 497-517. OECD 2007. Babies and Bosses: Reconciling Work and Family Life: A Synthesis of Findings for OECD Countries. Paris: OECD Publishing. Riitakorpi, J. et. al 2017. Varhaiskasvatuksen yksityiset palvelut. Valtakunnallinen selvitys 2015. Ministry of Education and Culture. Rizvi, F. & Lingard, B. 2010. Globalizing Education Policy. London and New York: Routledge. UN 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations. UNESCO. 1994. The Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education. UNESCO. UNESCO. 2000. The Dakar Framework. World Education Forum 26.– 28.4.2000 Dakar, Senegal. World Bank. 2007. Early Child Development from Measurement to Action: A Priority for Growth and Equity. Washington DC: World Bank Publications. World Bank. 2003. Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLL/Resources/Lifelong-Learning-in-the-Global-Knowledge-Economy/lifelonglearning_GKE.pdf.
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