Document Type

Conference Paper

Book Title or Conference Proceedings Title

Quality in education: Teaching and leadership in challenging times

Department

Professional Development Centre, Karachi

Abstract

“The successful education of the child during her/his years of schooling and the participation of that child in society as an adult, depends to a greater degree upon the foundation laid during the early years” (Evans, Myers and IIfled, 2000, p.7). Research indicates that learning is crucial to development whereby knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are developed. Research from disciplines such as physiology, nutrition, health, sociology, psychology and education provide evidence indicating that the early years are crucial in terms of developing intelligence, personality and social behaviour of children. If children are not provided opportunities to communicate, learn and develop they will not attain the optimal level of development and therefore will not thrive. It is therefore imperative that people working with young children understand the multifaceted aspects of children’s development within the context in which they grow, think and learn. Children spend a major part of their day in schools ‘learning’ and in interacting with other children and the adult/s (teacher/s). This implies that the role of the adult and significant others in the children’s life play a crucial role in providing opportunities for optimal development which include an emotionally safe and healthy environment, supportive interactions and relationships, stimulation and time. These are all important and integral aspects of quality in early childhood settings. Furthermore, research conducted in the area of early childhood in the UK and US indicate that the determinants of quality are a stimulating physical environment, staff knowledge and understanding of the curriculum, knowledge of how young children learn, adult skill in supporting children and helping parents to support children’s learning at home. (EPPE project, UK, 1999 to date). Katz, (1991) also indicates similar characteristics of quality. The quality standards that the Certificate in Education: Early Childhood Education Development (CE:ECED) programme at AKU-IED is based on the High/Scope quality determinants which include a stimulating physical environment, consistent 157 daily routines catering both to child-initiated and adult-initiated experiences, positive and sustained interactions between the adult and the child and positive relationships between other adults working with and for the children. This paper will present the findings that have emerged from our observations and work in a variety of early childhood settings as a part of the support we extend to the course participants of the CE:ECED programme and have been derived from our work over a period of four years (2001-2005). The data has been collected through systematic classroom observations including field notes, photographs, videos, children’s work and conferencing with teachers and children. Findings from the data reveal that teachers’ perception of their sense of efficacy and capabilities, their understanding of curriculum, prior knowledge of how young children think and develop, the school infrastructure, the parental partnerships, leadership and the administrative and academic organization are some of the major factors that effect quality of teaching and learning in early childhood settings. This paper will define quality in teaching and learning as have emerged from our findings.