As attention and investment in early-childhood care and development (ECCD) has increased in the majority world,1 aid organizations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emphasized creating quality early-childhood environments for children, their families, and the broader community. More specifically, the aim is to support children’s health, education, and well-being while building capacity among multiple local actors within communities.
Critiques of expert-driven constructions of ECCD community quality in the majority world center around the fact that these notions often reflect little of the social, economic, or historical experiences of the communities in which they are implemented, and also do little to preserve the “inherent assets, such as mother tongue and positive cultural practices” (Ball, 2005, p.4) of these locales (Ball & Pence, 2006; Cleghorn & Prochner, 2010; Penn, 2005). Furthermore, these interventions rarely engage in authentic dialogue with the very individuals they are hoping to engage in social and economic improvement (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 1999; Cleghorn and Prochner, 2010). Therefore, this dissertation presents research findings and an analysis of local constructions of quality in two Filipino communities’ aid organizations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emphasized creating quality early-childhood environments for children, their families, and the broader community. More specifically, the aim is to support children’s health, education, and well-being while building capacity among multiple local actors within communities.
This dissertation resides within a critical constructivist paradigm and uses a theoretical framework based on anthropology and social-justice literature to best understand specific locally constructed knowledge and processes regarding childhood and quality ECCD. Aligning with the study’s constructivist paradigm, a qualitative methodology, including focus groups and interviews with a collaborative, ethnographic focus, was chosen. The main tool used in the focus groups was called StoryTech, which considers the indirect and contextual nature of the concept of quality, allowing a critical, in-depth look at what multiple stakeholders view and believe quality looks like in their own ECCD contexts. Stakeholder groups that were invited to participate in the research were day-care parents, teachers, community members, and barangay officials. This method required stakeholder groups to discuss visions of their quality ECCD community. Data were analyzed and interpreted across each stakeholder group using an anthropological and social-justice perspective.
Individuals within each stakeholder group were asked to envision what a quality ECCD community would look like in five years, 2012, and several themes emerge in the analysis of these ideal visions. From the findings within the community dimension many stakeholders see a collaborative notion of quality that embodies local practices of bayanihan or dagyaw . Underlying these local practices are values of collaboration, embracing others, listening, seeking out discourses to connect bridges across the ECCD sector, and finding innovative solutions to problems. Similarly, from the findings in the daycare classroom and professional development dimensions stakeholders’ ideal visions incorporate supporting and facilitating the development of a good professional citizen. Overall this study demonstrated that conceptions of quality ECCD are to some extent locally determined.
In conclusion, while in this dissertation I am not suggesting ways in which cultural projects such as ECCD democratic communities can evolve, flourish, and sustain themselves (these areas need further research), I present and discuss locally constructed visions of processes and practices that have emerged from the research and the literature on inclusive practices, which support an ideal quality ECCD community.
1I use the terms “minority world” to refer to the Western countries in which a minority of the world’s population lives and “majority world” for the rest of the world.