International Contacts

2/18/12 Part 3
Unfortunately this week, I did not receive a response from either of my contacts so I had to complete the alternative assignment.  As I explored the UNESCO website I found some very interesting links and articles.  One link I followed from a topic on monitoring lead me to the first ever World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education which I had never heard of so this was news to me.  I also read through the Education for All goals, which I've included below.  As I read through the goals it made me think more about the topic this week and defining my professional goals.  Branching off of this I read the article about Gambia discussing their plan to provide child development centres for 3-6 year olds on the campus of current schools.  At first, I was excited to see that the need for early care and education had been addressed but after reading the article it was a little concerning.  During the course of the interview it was presented that the children would actually be on playgrounds with teachers taken from the schools, given some training in early childhood and they were basically going to watch the children not teach.  While I am very much in favor of curriculum that utilizes play it seems as if they are basically setting up a system in which the teachers will become babysitters ensuring that the children don't hurt themselves.  As the interview continued the question was posed about 0-2 year olds and the response was that the education sector has no plan for them.  As an early childhood professional it was kinda disheartening to read that, almost as if they were of no concern when we all know that the early years are the formative years.  I should also mention this particular article/interview was from 2006.

The three topics I chose to explore on this website were access, quality and equality which all relate to my professional goals.  I plan to own and operate my own  early learning center and am actually in the process of doing just that.  As I make my plans each of the above mentioned topics have been central to my decision making.  I have made efforts to provide quality programs that are available to all.

Education for All Goals

Six internationally agreed education goals aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.
Goal 1
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children
Goal 2Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
Goal 3
Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes
Goal 4
Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
Goal 5
Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
Goal 6
Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments

2/4/12  Part 2

Suzana has been extremely helpful over the last few weeks in providing information and direction as I have searched for information online.  In keeping with this week's topic of excellence in equity in education I learned that things are not so different in Macedonia.  While the government supports early childhood education, lack of funding has produced low quality programs.  So even though the children are attending preschool, the quality of education and care may not necessarily be the best that it can be.  One big push of their government is to have 100% participation in early childhood programs by 1015 (currently the rate is 95%).  A program which would require more funding and just like in America, requires more teacher education.  I also learned that very few children with special needs attend pre school at all.  As we communicated I was directed to learn about the concept of Child Friendly Schools and the following are their points on education  (i) inclusiveness; (ii) effectiveness; (iii) health, safety, and protection in school environments; (iv) gender responsiveness; (v) involvement or participation of students, parents, and community members in the life and work of the school and the community; and (vi) respect for children's rights and multiculturalism.  The Child Friendly Schools were developed with the concept that every child has the right to high quality education.  The goals of the Child Friendly School are actually set up to resolve some of the inequities in education which is interesting.

Last week I actually made contact with 1.5 of my international contacts.  I actually connected with Suzana who is the Executive Director for the Foundation for Educational and Cultural Initiatives @ "Step by Step" Macedonia.  As for my second contact, we are still working on that.  As I stated previously I asked one of the teachers from my center about contacting someone in her home of Pakistan and I have a confirm from her niece unfortunately we haven't connected yet.

Through my contact with Suzana I was able to find out about childhood poverty in Macedonia.  First of all, one of the reasons for the new poverty level was stricter lending policies.  Some families used loans as a method of taking care of their household necessities and policies made it harder for them to get the money they needed.  In thinking about poverty, it is measured not only in the monetary sense but also in lack of access to things as healthcare and education.  The issue of poverty is a serious one but the key to overcoming poverty seems to be education.  The program that Suzana works with is a network that provides resources and advocacy tools to organizations and individuals.  After corresponding with Suzana and reading through their website I also began reading their newsletter.

In making contact with Suzana, reading about the new poor on the Children's Defense Fund website and other research this week I learned a few things.  The most important thing I learned is that you can not tell a child in poverty just by looking at him/her.  The second most important thing was more of a reminder:  that my job extends beyond the classroom.