Samoa: Working on early childhood education
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood education and care is one of the six Education For All goals. It is however one of the most neglected, with generally low levels of funding being allocated by Government. It is however one area where strengthening both public and private capacity is necessary in order to better support young children’s holistic development. This project is support by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust and aims to improve the quality of non-formal early childhood care and education by supporting parenting education practice offered at Community Learning Centres.
On 11 August 2011 the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) held a consultation meeting with early childhood educators to discuss parent education and facilitator guidebooks. Samoa had been involved in the initial survey on the work done by Community Learning Centres relating to parent education and knowledge about early childhood education along with four other countries in the Asia Pacific Region.
A generic parent education book and a facilitator guidebook were written using the initial survey as an indicator of parent and community needs, particularly in relation to early childhood education and parental knowledge. These generic books now need to be adapted in order to support the specific needs of parents in Samoa and the local context in which they will be used. Facilitators, working through Community Learning Centres, will be used to support the parent education programme aimed at increasing parents’ knowledge about early childhood education and ways to support their children.
The consultation meeting involved UNESCO, MESC and invited participants, predominantly people involved in early childhood care and education. All participants had received a copy of the generic resource books and the purpose of the meeting was to look at ways to adapt these to support Samoan beliefs and philosophies within the context of early childhood education. While some concerns focused on how the Government of Samoa and MESC could better support early childhood education, discussion was generally focused on the local adaptation of the resources. Most participants wanted to see higher levels Samoan stories, songs and activities included, supported by illustrations reflecting Samoan culture. Suggestions and ideas from this consultation process will be incorporated into the resources as they are translated into Samoa. The next step will be to trial the resources through some Community Learning Centres working in early childhood education.