Early Childhood Care and Education Scenario in Preschools
Keywords:challenge, early childhood care and education, indigenous knowledge, parental involvement
The purpose of the study was to investigate the situations of early childhood care and education in terms of availability and accessibility of facilities and materials, teaching learn ing practices, use of indigenous knowledge, parental involvement, and major challenges in the practice. The study used exploratory research design data were collected through semi-structured interviews and non participant observation, which were analyzed quali tatively using thematic analysis method. The findings revealed that classrooms of the pre schools containing a large number of children, equipped with a limited number and variety of inappropriately stored teaching learning materials, and crowdedly posted similar charts and pictures focusing on letters and numbers, lack of enough tables, shelves, separate sleeping, and eating rooms. The result of the study demonstrated that there were short ages of storybooks and play materials in varieties and types. There were also very small numbers of old and developmentally inappropriate Amharic version reference books and syllabus per class, and non-existence of texts and teacher's guide in most preschools. It was also found that the teaching learning practice was inclined to child centered but lacked the use of play as the main approach. The available teaching materials and classroom practices dominantly focus on literacy and numeracy. Teachers teach children with good analogy and motivate them when they behaved properly. But, some age inappropriate practices were observed, and the use of corporal and psychological punishments as a means to correct children's misbehaviors. The study indicated that many outdoor playgrounds were not sufficient, safe and comfortable for play; they were furnished with a limited number and type of playing materials some of which were broken and out of function. It was also shown that almost all of the available teaching materials in the classrooms are prepared by teachers from locally available resources taking the local context into consideration. But, more numbers of foreign origin books were observed in the classrooms. The involvement of parents in their children's education was very low. Meetings and sending messages via communication books to parents were found to be the common forms of contact between parents and teachers. Based on the results, it can be concluded that the gaps observed in play and learning materials accessibility, minimal incorporation of indigenous resources, and less involvement of parents compromises the quality of early childhood care and education. Therefore, it is recommended that children's care and education is a shared venture that needs a collaborative intervention of parents, teachers, and other concerned govern ment and non-government bodies for the betterment of children in the future.