05 SES 02 A, Tackling and Preventing Educational Disadvavtage
Parallel Paper Session
During the past few decades, interest in both child-rearing and educational activities undertaken during the preschool and early primary school period has strongly increased (Andrews & Slate, 2001; Lowe Vandell & Wolfe, 2000). In Western European countries, this attention stems from a number of developments (OECD, 2000; Penn, 2009):
· the growing participation of women in the employment market and need for more child care services;
· the influx of non-Western immigrants and the socioeconomic, cultural, linguistic and pedagogical differences between the immigrant families and the native population (Cairney, 2002);
· the recognition that delays caused by disadvantaged home environments must be tackled before the children enter the formal school system (Driessen & Dekkers, 2008).
In the Netherlands, as in many European countries (for an overview see Eurydice, 2009), the USA and Canada, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are offered special early childhood education programs (ECE). These are provided in three separate institutions (and sometimes also in the home environment):
· childcare centers (0-4 year olds);
· preschool playgroups (2-3 year olds);
· grades 1 and 2 of primary schools (4-5 year olds).
ECE policy in the Netherlands is highly decentralized; in childcare centers and playgroups it is the responsibility of municipalities, in schools that of school boards. ECE is financed indirectly by the Ministry of Education under the Educational Disadvantage Policy, but municipalities and schools boards may also invest own budgets. Both municipalities and school boards have much autonomy and freedom as to how to spend the budget and the design of ECE.
In principle, the ECE target group consists of children with normal potential but who show developmental delays or are at risk for educational failure due to socio-economic, cultural and/or socio-linguistic factors. Theoretically, ECE policy can be said to be based on e.g. Bourdieu’s (1986) notions on social and cultural capital and Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) bio-ecological model which is based on the interaction of a person with his/her environment and which postulates that in unfavorable circumstances the realization of the genetic potential is suboptimal and increases the risk of dysfunctional development and leads to underdevelopment of cognitive, linguistic and social competencies; cf. Leseman, 2002).
Insofar effects of ECE can be demonstrated, a number of factors have been found to be prerequisite for successful ECE. Characteristic of effective programs is that they focus not only on the child in the childcare center, playgroup or school, but also on the parents at home. Other success factors are: an early start; an intensive approach; comprehensive high-quality programs; curriculum coherence and continuation in the elementary school phase; well-trained staff and teachers; adequate housing (Burger, 2010; Karoly, Kilburn & Cannon, 2005).
A number of studies have pointed to the fact that it is not the program as such that is central, but the way it is being implemented, and also by whom and under what conditions (De Haan, Leseman & Elbers, 2011). The main question of this paper is: How do municipalities, childcare centers, playgroups and schools give shape to ECE and how do they work together to prevent educational disadvantage before children start formal education?
Andrews, S., & Slate, J. (2001). Prekindergarten programs: A review of the literature. Current Issues in Education, 4(5). On-line: http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume4¬number5/. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Eds.), Handbook of theory and research of education (pp. 241-258). New York: Greenwood Press. Burger, K. (2010). How does early childhood care and education affect cognitive development? An international review of the effects of early interventions for children from different social backgrounds. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25, 140-165. Cairney, T. (2002). Bridging home and school literacy: in search of transformative approaches to curriculum, Early Child Development and Care, 172, 153–172. De Haan, A., Leseman, P., & Elbers, E. (2011). Pilot gemengde groepen 2007-2010. Onderzoeksrapportage oktober 2011. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht. Driessen, G., & Dekkers, H. (2008). Dutch policies on socio-economic and ethnic inequality in education. International Social Science Journal, 59(193/194), 449-464. Eurydice (2009). Early Childhood Education and Care: Tackling social and cultural inequalities. Brussels: Eurydice. Karoly, L., Kilburn, M., & Cannon, J. (2005). Early childhood interventions. Proven results, future promise. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Leseman, P. (2002). Early childhood education and care for children from low-income or minority backgrounds, Paris: OECD, Lowe Vandell, D. & Wolfe, B. (2000). Child care quality: does it matter and does it need to be improved? Online: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/irp. OECD (2000). Early childhood education and care policy in the Netherlands. Paris: OECD. Penn, H. (2009). Early Childhood Education and Care. Key lessons from research for policy makers. Brussels: European Commission.
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