Quality Is a Difference Maker

Quality Is a Difference Maker

Michael Yamoah, Maxwell Kwesi Nyatsikor
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5089-2.ch006
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This chapter explores quality issues in early childhood education with emphasis on developing countries. Early childhood education forms the foundation upon which subsequent formal education is acquired. The quality of early childhood education and experiences learners engage in affect the quality of their present and future physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and behavioral outcomes. The chapter explores the connections between the quality of school settings, leadership, climate, and culture and school outcomes. Moreover, the impact of home and teacher characteristics as well as instructional quality on early childhood education outcomes is examined. The chapter concludes by identifying some challenges that confront the delivery of quality early childhood education in developing countries and offer workable strategies that would guarantee that developing countries are not left out in the global quest to provide quality education for all as espoused by Sustainable Development Goal 4.
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Globally, governments have had the need to implement policies needed to improve upon the quality of their human capital which, in no doubt, depends on the quality of teaching and learning opportunities offered to the citizens of the country (Oketch, 2005; Donaldson, 2011; Ministry of Education, Ghana, 2017). However, the foundation upon which future and more sophisticated knowledge, skills, competences, and values are acquired depends on the quality of early childhood education (hereafter ECE) offered to children at the onset of their formal education (Burroughs, et al. 2019; UNESCO, 2018; World Development Report, 2018).

According to UNESCO (2015) ECE spans the period from birth to age eight and encompasses education, health, nutrition and protection services. Thus, quality issues in ECE may be assessed by examining the quality of human and non-human variables within children’s homes, schools and neighbourhoods (Hattie, 2009; Bronfenbrenner, 2005). The human factors include the influences and contributions from stakeholders such as teachers, school heads, parents and other household members. The non-human variables include the quality of school facilities and services (e.g. buildings, furniture, recreational, nutrition, sanitation, health) and environment (e.g. quality of school climate and culture). The quality of these factors and services directly determines the quality of children’s present and future social, emotional, educational, health, economic, and behavioral outcomes (Manning, Wong & Fleming, 2019).

According to the International Labour Organisation [ILO] (2012) pre-school education “improves school readiness; makes enrollment in the first grade more likely; reduces dropout and grade repetition; and increases completion and achievement” (p. 8). Quality ECE builds children’s pre-reading and pre-mathematics skills (Barnett, Lamy & Jung, 2005). On the other hand, poor-quality ECE can be detrimental to the development of children from all backgrounds, particularly if it fails to equalize some of the disparities and disadvantages that children face in the early developmental stages of their lives (Manning et al., 2019; Gordon & Browne, 2014). It is therefore incumbent on all stakeholders to ensure that the quality of educational opportunities provided for early graders are of specific standards that guarantee quality of outcomes in all dimensions of human development. This is imperative given the view that good quality education is a human right and a global public good because of the economic and non-economic benefits that are associated with education (Oketch, n.d cited in UNESCO, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning: The process of acquiring knowledge or skills by studying.

Quality: The standard of something measured against similar thing.

Education: The process of educating or impacting knowledge, skills or information to a learner.

Childhood: The period or stage of being a child.

Teaching: The act or process of helping a learner to acquire information (knowledge and skills).

Africa: Second largest continent characterised by relatively poorer countries.

Developing Countries: These are countries with less developed industrial base, low income levels and poor infrastructure.

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