Table of Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .................................................................................................. 3 A. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND ........................................................................ 8 B. A NEW VISION: PRESCHOOL EDUCATION IN TIMOR-‐LESTE .................................... 11 C. STRATEGIC FOCUS AREAS ....................................................................................... 13 I. Expand Availability of Quality Preschool Education .............................................. 13 II. Increase the training and on-‐going professional development of preschool educators .............................................................................................................. 14 III. Support Curriculum Development ...................................................................... 15 IV. Development of Family and Community Partnerships ....................................... 18 V. Development of a standards based monitoring and evaluation system .............. 19 References: ................................................................................................................. 21 Acronyms .................................................................................................................... 23 Glossary ...................................................................................................................... 24 Annex .......................................................................................................................... 25
A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR PRE-‐SCHOOL EDUCATION
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Timor-‐Leste’s vision for preschool education is to provide all children between 3-‐5 years of age access to a quality preschool program close to their home. A quality preschool education will help children to develop the basic skills, knowledge, confidence and self-‐esteem needed to arrive at primary school ready to learn. Families, communities and local government will be involved in the decision making process. Through these collaborative efforts a network of preschools will be established that meet all the requirements defined by the National Directorate of Preschool Education within the Ministry of Education (MoE). The short term goal as stated in Timor Lest Nation Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 is that by 2015 at least one half of the total number of children between 3 and 5 years old will be enrolled in a quality preschool.
Current Situation In 2007-‐2008 there were 141 pre-‐primary schools with 310 teachers reaching approximately 25% of the population between 3-‐5 years of age. Enrolment rates however are much higher in urban areas. Communities continue to make a significant contribution to the growth in preschool education. Of the 141 preschools, 115 are private community-‐ supported. One of the main concerns characterizing the current preschool provision is the low level of quality teaching and learning. Teachers are poorly trained and classrooms lack sufficient teaching and learning materials available in the appropriate languages of instruction. The urgent need to develop and reform the curriculum is recognized. Moreover, the inspection system established in 2008, has not been developed for preschool education. In spite of these challenges, some important recent developments have taken place including a preschool teacher competence framework, guidelines for school accreditation and a pilot preschool teacher training program. With the support of the UNICEF, Open Society Foundation and Macquarie University, the Early Childhood Education Working Group is reviewing the quality and of teaching and learning materials within a range of existing programs.
The law decreed in 2010 to create National Directorate of Preschool Education was a major milestone in the development of this sector. The Ministry of Education’s teacher career regime should be used to help resolve some of the teaching challenges within the preschool sector including the lack of adequate supervision of new teachers. Under the direction of the Directorate of Preschool Education, the Early Childhood Education Working Group will continue to coordinate efforts among organization and NGO partners in order to achieve a more standardized teaching and learning guidelines.
A New Vision: Preschool Education in Timor-‐Leste Preschool education programs address all aspects of children’s development (social-‐emotional, language, cognitive and physical) and provide a solid foundation for the child’s success in early primary school. Positive benefits for children enrolled in quality programs include: positive self-‐ concept and resiliency; communication and emergent literacy skills; critical thinking for decision making and problem solving; skills, attitudes to construct their own knowledge; and an ability to interact well with children and adults. In order to increase the enrolment rates of preschool children to 50% by 2015, the Ministry of Education is encouraging the development of a range of programs administered by both private and public entities. Flexibility in terms of the organization and structure of Timor-‐Leste’s preschool programs is encouraged. Within this structure, however, all preschools programs will be committed to the following principles: • • •
• • •
Establish a supportive environment for children, families and staff that provide opportunities to enhance awareness refine skills and increase understanding; Understand that the empowerment of families occurs when programs are jointly managed and reflect the perspectives of families, communities and staff; Promote a comprehensive vision of health for children by assuring that basic health and nutrition needs are met, encouraging practices that prevent future illnesses and injuries and promote positive and culturally relevant health behaviours; Provide comprehensive learning opportunities that address all aspects of development including social, emotional, cognitive and physical growth; to support the child develop an understanding of the languages, values, beliefs, traditions, and customs of our diverse East Timorese cultures, secure in the knowledge that he or she makes a valued contribution to our society and the wider world. Build a community where adults and children are treated as individuals while at the same time a sense of belonging to the group is reinforced; Foster relationships with the larger community so that families and staff are served by a network of community agencies in partnership with one another; Develop a continuum of care, dedication, and services that allow stable and consistent support to families and children.
Strategic Focus Areas In order to achieve the goal of providing 50,000 more children with access to preschool education during 2011-‐2015, the Ministry of Education and the National Directorate of Preschool Education will focus of the following five strategic focus areas.
Expand availability of quality preschool education
In an effort to accommodate 25,000 more children, existing classrooms will be reutilized and empty classrooms will be reutilized and refurbished. A number of new classrooms within existing schools will also be build. Preschool development will be associated with the network of filial schools and primary schools in a number of clusters. Newly trained teachers will be assigned to schools to ensure that children living in both rural and urban communities have equal access to quality education. The Directorate of Preschool Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Education will be responsible for developing guidelines and standards for the design of new and/or refurbished preschool classroom and facilities. The environment should be child friendly, welcoming and accessible to all children. The facilities, equipment, and learning materials will be developmentally appropriate and well maintained in order to facilitate children’s optimal health, nutrition and development. The young child’s learning environment must be physically and psychologically safe. Physical safety includes the need to protect the child from health hazards that prohibit the child’s ability to learn and develop. The space should be organized to provide a variety of learning experiences for all children of different gender, ethnicity, or special needs. Resources within this environment should reflect the cultural experiences and traditions of Timor-‐Leste’s children and families. General criteria to consider in furnishing classrooms and developing learning materials should include: • Materials that promote problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity for children different talents and abilities • Easily accessible materials that stimulate play exploration and discovery • Multicultural materials that promote appreciation for diversity • Clearly defined places where families can gather • Places for displaying children’s work • Materials from the local environment including available natural materials • Materials for children to create their own play things. • The environment can be adapted so children with disabilities can fully participate in both indoor and outdoor activities Indoor space is designed and arranged to accommodate children individually, in small groups, and in a large group. Outdoor play areas should include age and developmentally appropriate equipment and protected by fences or natural barriers to prevent access to streets and to avoid other dangers.
II. Increase the training and ongoing professional development of preschool educators. Preschool education is critical as it establishes the foundation upon which all other learning takes place. Preschool teachers must have the educational background, training, and commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families with diverse needs. In achieving this goal the Ministry of Education and the National Directorate of Preschool Education will be responsible for designing staffing plans for the expansion of all preschool classrooms; the development and implementation of in-‐service programs to qualify teachers according to the new curriculum standards, and ensure an adequate number of teachers graduating from pre-‐service institutions. Accreditation for previous training and experience will also be recognized. Educating and caring for young children is an important and demanding responsibility. It is crucial that educators and caregivers possess appropriate characteristics as well as the
knowledge, and skills needed in working with young children. With appropriate training and experience, preschool educators are more likely to engage in warm positive interactions with children, offer rich language experiences, and create high quality learning environments. Teacher training will equip teachers with the following professional skills: • Theoretical and practical knowledge on child growth and development; • Ability to plan and implement the curriculum activities goals, and objectives; • Ability to assess a child’s development and to develop individual learning plans; • Capacity to work in teams with other educators; • Ability to prepare children for transition to primary school; • Develop necessary linkage with other community services including health and nutrition; • Capacity to work with and increase the participation of families in all aspects of their child’s learning and development; • To pursue opportunities to increase skills and continuous professional development.
III. Curriculum Development The Ministry of Education will develop and implement new curriculum guidelines in all preschools. Teaching and learning methodologies will incorporate and build upon the core values of Timor-‐Leste’s rich and diverse cultures recognizing and reflecting the value of children within the Timor-‐Leste family and community. In addition, the new curriculum will reflect current theories of child development and build upon best practices in early learning with particular attention to successful programs implemented within the South East Asia. The overall goal of the new curriculum framework is to provide young children with educational experiences that support their rights to learn and develop through arts, music and local language will be made to align the preschool curriculum, as well as child centred teaching methods and learning materials within the early primary grades. The new curriculum framework will provide guidelines to help children to: • Learn about themselves and their unique skills and potential; • Understand the needs of those around them family siblings, older relatives, and to establish patterns of care, respect and cooperation; • Recognize and appreciate the physical and social environment; • Enhance strong mother tongue communication skills including speaking, listening, pre reading and prewriting skills in their mother tongue. Preschool children’s language skills can also be enriched through exposure to the sounds and symbols of a second language through songs, rhymes, and games. • Express themselves through dance, music, and art; • Recognize and number and patterns, size, shape and proportion and the basic foundation skills of early numeracy; • Ask and answer questions through exploration and discovery of how things work; • Listen to others and respect and welcome difference to learn with other children and adults. IV. Development of Public Purpose Partnerships Organized society will play an important role in meeting the targeted enrolment increase by 2015 and strong and continuous efforts will be designed to promote these important partnerships. The critical work of the church and faith based organizations, and the many national and international agencies involved in preschool education will be supported and
enhanced. In addition, as the decentralization process continues, more responsibility will be given to District authorities to accelerate the expansion of the preschool network. The Ministry of Education with the support of the Directorate for Preschool Education will design and provide appropriate training and incentives to stimulate this process. A first step in this process is to map and assess the scale and quality of preschool programs within Timor-‐Leste. Areas where new preschools classrooms are needed most will be prioritized. A promotional package and incentives will be developed to stimulate the expansion of preschools administered by the church, community-‐based organizations and NGOs. The primary objective of this approach is to increase both the availability and accessibility of quality preschool programs for the most disadvantaged children and families. The National Directorate of Early Childhood Education will be responsible for developing policies and guidelines to establish preschool education programs throughout the country, public as well as private, including the registration, monitoring and accreditation.
V. Development of a standards based monitoring and evaluation system The Directorate of Preschool Education will design and implement an ongoing monitoring system to ensure that program goals and objectives are being met. This will include procedures, policies and systems that support stable staff, fiscal and program management. To meet this goal, the best teaching staff will be allocated to these activities and efforts. The accountability mechanisms will be community-‐based, open and transparent, respectful of diversities and multiple perspectives. Quality programs require competent and knowledgeable leadership, and clear administrative policies and procedures. The standard based monitoring and evaluation system will: • ensure compliance with relevant regulations and guidelines including teaching and learning, health, nutrition and safety; • promote fiscal soundness and program accountability; • maintain stable staff; • institute ongoing program planning for continuous program enrichment; • enhance a sense of shared partnership with families and communities, and encourage local and regional decision making regarding early care and education policies.
A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR PRE-‐SCHOOL EDUCATION
The one who waters with love doesn't die. Flowers blossom. Fruits sparkle. The seed breaks into a living tissue. - (Ruy Cinatti)
A. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
It's by using the metaphor of the “TAIS” as a living piece of cloth which represents the Timorese soul and dignity, glorified by a Portuguese poet and anthropologist, Ruy Cinatti, who very much loved and wrote about Timor-‐Leste, that this policy document is framed. Therefore the metaphor of the TAIS will be used throughout the entire work. The goal of this document is to provide a Framework for the Expansion and Development of Preschool Education in Timor-‐Leste, including Curricular-‐Teaching Guidelines and Development and Learning Targets for Timorese Children. Timor-‐Leste National Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 recognizes that “in 2002 there were 57 pre-‐primary schools registered, serving 2,904 children. Of these 57 schools 8 were public and 49 were private (…)”. This education subsystem is now expanding considerably. At the start of the school year of 2007/2008 there were 141 pre-‐primary education schools with 310 teachers, attended by 7,994. This means we are reaching 25% of the total population of children of that age group. However these figures may hide some significant differences between provinces and regions. Enrolment rates are much higher in urban areas, than they are in rural and the Highland regions (p. 17). Therefore, the short term goal is that by 2015 at least one half of the total number of children between 3 and 5 years old will be enrolled and receive quality preschool education (p. 65). It is important to highlight a clear definition of terms of reference. This policy is about preschool education, for children from 3 to 5, as a preparation for primary education. There are two other perspectives: Early Childhood Education which is concerns also children from 3 to 5, but has a broader sense than just preparation to primary school having the concern with the child’s overall development. The perspective of Early Childhood Development (according to UNICEF) is concerned with the global development of children from birth to 8 years old. The goal of this policy framework is to provide a set of principles and guidance for the development of preschool education within the context of Timor-‐Leste’s emerging educational system. It begins with the observation of the challenges and opportunities for the development of services for children from birth to age six. Focusing on the development of preschool education within the larger early child development system, the document defines a set of
principles guiding the new vision for preschool education in Timor-‐Leste. The third section of the policy framework includes information to be considered to reach the goals specified in the government’s commitment to five strategic focus areas including (1) expand availability of quality preschool education;(2) increase the training and on-‐going professional development of preschool educators;(3) support curriculum development; (4) involve families and communities and (5) develop a standards-‐based monitoring and evaluation system. A supplemental Document, Basic Orientations for Preschool Practitioners, provides guidance for practitioners with day to day activities and some principles for quality approach to preschool education. It includes pedagogical guidelines for organization of working spaces; creating and use of materials; examples of daily activities; project work activities; activities and games; and assessment and documentation.
Background The Government of the Republic of Timor-‐Leste intends to reduce the disadvantageous circumstances that deny 0 to 6 years old children a fair start in life, which deprive them of access to health and education services. Recognizing the crucial role of early stimulation based on adequate nutrition of the body, and rich educational experiences based on games to stimulate their minds, the Ministry of Education will ensure that no Timorese child will be limited to the disadvantageous cycle that may be its inheritance at birth, and which can't become-‐ otherwise it would be a serious social injustice and absence of an equitable perspective -‐ its context as that child grows and tries to discover the world and his or her place in that same world. The Government of the Republic of Timor-‐Leste "will try to reduce the disadvantageous circumstances that deprive many children of a fair developmental start from birth, which deny them access to education and health".1The Government of Timor-‐Leste and the Ministry of Education acknowledge that these goals mean that the communities are equipped with minimal services and the know-‐how and skills to guarantee that children's development reaches its full potential. The government is fully conscious that children develop simultaneously in every area of development (physical, emotional, social and cognitive) and that if "one area is not developed it will have repercussions in other areas of development" (ibid.). Thus, the government will have to guarantee that, in spite of the fact that its ministries and departments exist as separate entities to facilitate administration, children offered those services must experience services as a whole, including an effective support for every dimension of the children’s life: health, education, well-‐being, access to educational backgrounds and health care thus strengthening their physical and psychological development. This guidance emphasizes attention to children’s rights, including the right to play, to feel safe, to grow without any form of mistreatment, abuse or abandonment (decreed by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child). The various ministries and departments have therefore to guarantee that the systems created ensure interdepartmental communication, strategic common definition, dialogue and cooperation towards initiatives created to serve Timor-‐Leste’s communities and its future citizens in the person of smaller children. The principle of central and regional articulation with the local becomes essential in political guidance (at several ministerial level: Education, Health, Justice and Social Solidarity, etc.), so that, locally, strategies are joint and articulate. Equally important will be the involvement and empowerment of local communities and the families, not forgetting the women – traditionally the primary caregivers -‐, in the discussion of these policies and, most of all, in its context making them decisive counterparts and not mere services consumers. On the other hand men need to be more aware of their role as parents of young children
Child-to-Child Trust, Policy Statement. September 2011.
During the development of the policy framework for preschool education a set of contextual issues emerged from the initial observations, review of documents, and discussions. These are summarized below. •
A first issue relates to the need to obtain a full profile of the institutions, public and private initiatives covered, in the 13 districts of Timor-‐Leste, including information on where are and what services are available for children from 3 to 65years old. This task would be in the purview of the district and local educational administrations authorities which, under the guidance of central government or in collaboration with other agencies, would have this mapping to take place in the short term. A second issue concerns the training of professionals for working with young children. These practitioners need simultaneously to be specialised in child development and learning but also in the involvement of families without whom there is no quality preschool education. Alongside, these professionals need to establish a strategic relationship with the primary education teachers to ensure children are successful in the transition to the next level. The Strategic Plan 2010-‐2013 recognizes the Bachelor’s level for all children professionals. A third issue focuses on the complexity of the language of instruction.The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-‐Leste establishes two official languages -‐ Tetum and Portuguese. To add to this sensitive problem there are 16 other native mother tongues and 36 local dialects. The policy we will be presenting will follow the policy of Ministry of Education, Yet along our suggestions, we will reinforce the role of mother language as a transition from home to school. A fourth issue relates to curricula and learning materials. Although, teaching materials and books have been developed which reveal sensitivity to the culture of the people of Timor-‐Leste, these are barely visible in the settings. The investment in natural materials -‐ given the rich Timorese fauna and flora -‐ is not sufficiently visible in the classrooms, for the most part equipped with toys and games, generously donated of course, but conveying values and symbols less adapted to the Timorese culture. Finally, a fifth issue relates to the link between pre-‐school and primary education. Not all children have access to primary education (the statistics checked point to a coverage ratio of 64%). High quality programs for children from 3 to 5 years old may play an inductive role, e.g. they strengthen the trust and value that families must place in school, thus indirectly adding to primary education universalization.
B. A NEW VISION: PRESCHOOL EDUCATION IN TIMOR-‐LESTE DIGNITY and RESPECT are core values of Timor-‐Leste culture as is the pride of its history of resistance. It is essential to have an attitude of respect in the way people relate with each other. This respect is not about subservience, but intertwined with the value of dignity. It is inscribed in these values that the expansion and development of early childhood education in Timor-‐Leste is considered. However, if adults and elderly people are worthy of that respect and reverence from the young,, that same respect and reverence is expected from the elderly towards the young, including its youngest citizens. As an essential guideline for children's education in Timor-‐Leste it is proposed to assume the child as an integral part of a family and of one or more communities, each with its own culture and language. She is acknowledged, from the early years, as a CITIZEN of this country, a young citizen entitled to have a voice, to express her opinion, to have access to express herself to choose and commit herself to the choices she has made. Thus, the commitment to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is inscribed as a basic guide to expand children's education. One conceives that early childhood education in Timor-‐Leste deeply embedded in a national culture, which is a living and dynamic organism and, therefore, permanently changing. That CULTURE2 is a complex sum of a variety of local cultures from which school, namely the "pre-‐school” should be an integral part, progressively introducing the child, and their families and community in a wider culture which integrates and transcends the local culture. ETHICS and AESTHETICS, the sense of beauty and good, of justice, as well as the reverence of TRANSCENDENT are still part of the Timorese ethos. We can’t forget the deep sense of the religious as part of East Timorese culture and of its experience of resistance. Preschools should emphasize that dimension in children’s lives and daily activities not forgetting the principles of religious diversity. Preschool should integrate and broaden those values: spaces should be beautiful and rich in natural elements, recognizing that an area dedicated to contemplation and silence should be respected, while designing that same classroom. HOSPITALITY and ACCEPTANCE values are also deep cultural values of Timor-‐Leste people and they should be expressed in the way children, and their families are welcomed at the pre-‐school within their original culture diversity. The TAIs metaphor that we are using throughout this policy framework makes renewed sense, as we underline these values: the tais is deeply part of East Timorese culture, and represents the interweaving of all these values. This “New Vision” leads to a set of Strategic Principles.
Strategic Principles -
The need for a New Social Commitment which includes other institutions beyond the school: municipalities, health and cultural institutions, local associations, voluntary organisations, NGOs, cooperatives, unions and other organizations, etc.;
It is important to emphasize "culture" as a dynamic and changing concept. Cultures are transformed as they interact with different realities. We think that for Timor-Leste it is essential a dialectical combination between "traditional culture" and "modernity" if we want education to aim for the future. On the other hand, we all know features of traditional cultures that must not be kept as they isolate a country and stop it from entering into a sustainable development.
This new social commitment involves all civil society, and demands more social and community participation, becoming a true national goal that must be assumed and accommodated not only by the Ministry of Education but also by other ministries, particularly those who have responsibilities for Social Solidarity Health, Justice,, Finance, Culture, State Administration, etc.
This National Goal relates to the children (boys and girls) of Timor-‐Leste, including the transmission of Timorese cultural and linguistic heritage to the new generations, helping their integration into the community, in the wider society and in their country, thus contributing to the assumption of their citizenship and guiding them to the future.
The organizational structure of the Ministry of Education envisages a National Directorate of Pre-‐school Education: This unit shall have its competencies and authority strengthened and must be scaled up and duly equipped to assure articulation between ministries and regional and local structures of civilian administration, to put into practice and implement these political-‐strategic guidelines. This very Directorate shall promote the accreditation and make-‐up of all equipment for children’s pre-‐school education in Timor-‐Leste (public or private)..
As a strategic guidance, there is a need for the organization of a set of standards for development and learning for children 3 to 5. The Ministry of Education must establish and promote a clear policy of training professionals for childhood education, assuring the Bachelor’s degree, as defined in the Strategic Plan for Education (2010-‐2030) and the accreditation of the training already obtained by professionals in the field, either in public or private institutions.
The Ministry of Education must also establish a clear funding policy of structures for the children, budget allocation, directly funding the public ones but at the same time establishing funding allocation standards to private welfare institution, if the need arises.
In this sense this proposal is, metaphorically, inspired by the design, construction and weaving of a TAIS for Children's Education in Timor Leste. This TAIS will only become possible after a patient weaving process, crossing skills, articulating efforts, creating synergies, anticipating different points of view, changing differences into opportunities and challenges, involving everyone -‐ children, families, communities, professionals, national and local authorities, organizations and agencies -‐ in building a true citizenship project whose never ending product will be that cloth turned into a form of art: A Tais for Children' Education in Timor-‐Leste.
C. STRATEGIC FOCUS AREAS
Timor-‐Leste’s National Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 states that: Regarding the organization of the preschool education system, the National Education Act establishes that the State is responsible for ensuring the existence of a network of preschool education. The law describes this pre-‐school education network as consisting of preschools from local administrations and other private and cooperative entities, whether collective or individual, namely private social solidarity agencies, parent associations, resident associations, civic or religious associations and union and employer associations (p. 65)
According to these guidelines the National Directorate of Preschool Education will focus on the following five strategic areas: I.
Expand Availability of Quality Preschool Education
1. It is in the scope of the Ministry of Education to propose a National Strategic Concept for the expansion and development of children's education in Timor-‐Leste that coordinates public and private initiatives in an effective way, so as to build a "national network of facilities for young children". These can have several names: day nursery, early childhood centre, kindergartens, preschools, kindergarten-‐school, childhood community centres…We will be using in the context of this Policy Framework the terminology preschools, aware that they have different ways of being organized. .Carrying out these political guidelines at the highest level Ministry of Education will ensure that they are delivered at every level of the system, adding to a collective transformation process and aiming at an education that promotes effective social equity. 2. It is, however, on the Ministry of Education to define a Unique Pedagogical Supervision (Pedagogical Responsibility) of all initiatives related to education of children from 3 to 5 years old, whether public, municipal, private or linked to non-‐governmental organizations or local communities initiatives. This pedagogical supervision implies that the Ministry of Education plays a supportive role in promoting initiatives including flexible propositions. However, the Ministry of Education must also guide to ensure accuracy and quality requirements without waving its guiding role as a guide, regulator, supervisor and guaranteeing accountability. The Ministry of Education also has to guarantee equity, e.g., ensuring justice in order to compensate social and regional differences and inequalities. 3. From this Unique Pedagogical Supervision springs the establishment of learning and development goals, teaching institution's rules and activities framework and the: • definition of minimum technical standards for installing or upgrading of institutions; • child to adult ratios; • definition of a set of curriculum guidelines and learning and development standards for 3 to 5 years old children; • the definition of initial qualification and initial and on-‐the-‐job training of the teaching staff; • the definition of rules to encourage quality assessments of the preschools ensuring a connection with the implementation and coordination of compulsory education; • assessment and supervision in close liaison with the local authorities and local communities. 4. In the Ministry of Education, the National Directorate of Preschool Education may, within the framework in which it operates, extend to 2 or 3 early childhood specialists, with the capacity, autonomy, authority and "agility" needed to direct and have a constant
relationship with district and local education authorities and NGOs in order to rapidly implement this Strategic Plan. This National Directorate besides all above described tasks, should provide technical support and develop initiatives that promote innovation and research aiming to guarantee and improve the quality of services to young children. The existing Grupo Estratégico para a Educação de Infância (Strategic Group for Early Childhood Education) will be the advisory group of this Unit and should monitor and evaluate systematically the work and guidelines set..The Grupo Estratégico para a Educação de Infância (Strategic Group for Early Childhood Education), will support the National Directorate of Preschool Education activity. This strategic group might include representatives of UNICEF and CONECTIL (National Council for Catholic Education), the National Committee for Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Teacher Training Institute, UNESCO National Committee, as well as representatives of agencies and NGOs that provide early childhood services in Timor-‐Leste, associations representing families and childhood professionals, women organizations and organizations linked to Justice (Protection of Minors, etc.). 5. Another key guideline is Decentralization. If the role of Ministry of Education will be the accreditation of early childhood centres as well the accreditation of previous training of teachers; providing them further training,. Responsibilities need to be given to local administrative authorities, local communities and families, as well as private initiatives, so as to provide quality preschool education. 6. Ministry of Education may develop and encourage alternative possibilities of developing a preschool experience for children in most isolated areas by sending itinerant teachers to visit families, helping them to create in their own homes educational environments and experiences for their young children, providing adequate materials, books and activities. Ministry of Education also needs to find ways to disseminate information to communities, especially those in most remote areas. Among other Initiatives: television and radio campaigns, information in health centres and community centres, etc. 7. Finally, it is not possible to build a strategy for early childhood education expansion and development in Timor-‐Leste without reference to the global development of local communities (health, housing, establishing means of improve quality of life, culture, leisure activities, etc.) and the perspectives of an inclusive education (including children previously diagnosed with special needs) and early intervention for children considered "at risk". II. Increase the training and on-‐going professional development of preschool educators Timor-‐Leste’s Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 considers that “new packages for in-‐service and pre-‐service training will be developed and implemented” (p. 69). The Government needs to ensure that all previous training, developed by the Ministry of Education or other private entities is accredited. Like it was mentioned before, this becomes a critical issue. Short refreshment courses in the areas were teachers reveal to be more vulnerable, may be implemented. School centred training modalities are proved to be useful, as well as mentorship focused on school-‐ oriented reflection and reformulation of practice towards an educational autonomy, under the guidance of consultants, mentors or other senior experts. This National Strategic Plan presents a program for qualifying teachers for all pre-‐school classrooms: -
design staffing formulas and staffing plans for the expansion of early childhood education;
design new in-‐service programs to qualify teachers according to the new curriculum standards; prepare and implement an in-‐service training program for all teachers already working in preschool settings; ensure an adequate number of teachers graduating from pre-‐service institutions are qualified with the required competencies to work in the preschools (p. 70).
It is to be emphasized the crucial importance of the training of teachers and caregivers and the need for common parameters within their own professional exercise: their upgrading, the standardization of every guideline (adequate for each level of education), benefits, status, work conditions and wages. The professional pre-‐school teacher is not limited to affectionately welcome or watch over children. That attitude of welcoming and hospitality is fundamental. But the professional is someone who can internalize to set a purpose for his/her educational activities in order to adjust their practices to the group of children that she welcomes in the pre-‐school, allowing for the pursuit of learning targets. The professional takes effective, critical and constructive ownership of national curriculum guidelines and manages the curriculum with educational autonomy and informed insight because he/she previously diagnosed and characterized his/her real educational situation. This is what defines his/her professionalism: -
theoretical and practical knowledge on his/her function and children growth and development; autonomy and ability to plan curriculum and activities; ability to assess situations and to pay special attention to individual children and tailor their needs to these situations; ability to intervene early when children reveal difficulties and develop for them adjusted action plans or to refer them to the relevant departments: health, special needs education, justice, etc. ability to work in teams with other educators or teachers and with local authorities; ability to prepare children for transition and coordinate effectively with the primary school and with families, health, justice institutions, etc.; ability to involve the families in the educational process; ability to achieve objectives, to define strategies and assess his/her action, rendering his/her work transparent and subject to scrutiny by his/her peers, families and communities, supervisors and/or trainers; ability to permanently question and learn about his/her practice, innovating, testing, researching.
One important possibility may represent a joint training for preschool and primary school teachers, at least emphasizing some common dimensions of their training. This may create the grounds for future cooperation and facilitate the transition from preschool to primary. III. Support Curriculum Development 1. What is a Child? (Labarik) Each Timorese child is a “pro-‐active citizen participant in a democratic nation”. Therefore every child (labarik) is considered integrated in his/her particular communities: family, local community, the village and its Liurai and other reference responsible adults and entities: the katuas, the aiknanoik-‐na‘in, the matan-‐dook and, of course, the church/es. Thus, early childhood education in Timor-‐Leste is polycentric, the local community taking care of each child as a precious asset, which protects and brings her as part of its project for the future -‐ a project of
development, culture, education, well-‐being and peace. But, simultaneously, the community respects the child as a real member of that community from which she is not the centre but an integral part, with right to expression and active citizenship, whether a boy or a girl, Timor-‐Leste national or not, belonging to either ethnic group, a different religion or a particular social group or another. It is internationally assumed that the centre of her own education should be the child herself. – child centered education and learning. The child is central, a social actor within the community, with rights and responsibilities, considering older children, adults and elderly people as essential references to his/her own development. The child lives within the Tais weaved by these interactions. Using the Tais metaphor, the child is an integral part of that fabric that achieves its artistic splendour when threads mutually intertwine and support each other in an adequately, supportively and consistently manner. That Tais design that weaves the child's own needs and rights, emphasizes the right to protection, health, food, education and, last but not the least... the right to play. In this "polycentric" concept of early childhood education there is the need to create “child friendly spaces”: the concern that every child is included in the life of the group, particularly those with special needs or coming from more vulnerable family and social situations. In a polycentric childhood education, no child can be left behind or excluded, which implies a deep care and attention from the teachers. The regulatory role of the Ministry of Education must oversee that there are no pre-‐school "ghettos": preschools from diverse initiatives (public, private non-‐profit, NGO’s initiative, church/es initiatives etc.) must include children from different socio-‐economic and cultural groups. It will represent a serious adverse effect of the early childhood education expansion plan if this creation of "ghettos" happens. 2. Pedagogical and Curricular Considerations This section illustrates what can be a Unique Pedagogical Supervision Standards for the creation and equipment of preschools will be prepared. Suggestions of pedagogical materials (books, puzzles, toys – all relevant to East Timor culture), but also repurposed materials and materials coming from the natural environment around the preschool. It is crucial to create a set of curriculum guidelines (framework) (necessarily broad, in order to integrate a diversity of curriculum models that may already exist in NGO’s and other organizations .But it is very important that Ministry of Education makes clear that these are National Guidelines for all preschool initiatives in Timor-‐Leste education: public, private, denominational and NGOs. It is for each educational institution to reinterpret and match them to one's context. The metaphor of the “TAIS” will continue to be used, as a long living piece of cloth which represents the way the teaching action needs to be focused, intersecting a multiplicity of levels and areas of the setting that presently host 3 to 5 year old children: professional diversity; the need to "weave" teaching work closely in line with families and communities, a curriculum organization that will not separate learning milestones from subject areas -‐ reading/writing, mathematics, social and natural sciences, arts, citizenship education and even spiritual education – and having different development areas as "backdrop” – physical, emotional, social and cognitive; therefore working as a tais. This conceptual theory is essential to understand this "weaving" work, as a loom that creates inter-‐disciplinarily, curriculum coherence and knowledge integration.
3. Learning and Development Goals It is to be emphasized that in the pre-‐school the child will intertwine smoothly the TAIS of his/her overall development and learning but discovers that one is competent by being with others, endowed with initiative and a critical sense of being an interdependent young child. Due to these principles the following development goals are established: • Learn to know yourself and your potential: Who am I? What is my name and how to write it? Who is my family? My birthday? My favourite friends? My body and what makes it healthy? -‐ to recognize one's value as an individual, as boy or girl, one's potential and personal difficulties, in a gradual autonomy and positively integrating the sense of self-‐esteem, self-‐respect and self-‐confidence, as well as care for their own health; • Learn to know those around him/her: her family, siblings, elderly, relatives, teacher and his/her assistants, group colleagues,: to learn how to establish relationships of care, respect and cooperation; learning about how to communicate despite diverse languages. That may be spoken in the classroom. • Learn to recognize and appreciate the physical and social environment: school and its own organization and operation rules; their family and the significant people in their lives. The traditions and rhythms of the community, history and traditions of their village, town. Also, basic habits of hygiene and health; foods that make children grow and those that are not good for their health. The natural and social environment surrounding the school; the wider universe of the city and the country where they live. The awareness that their country is not the centre of the world, that there are other children, other countries, other continents, that the Earth's resources are limited and we must respect, protect and love the environment. • Learning to master the instruments that make possible for them to communicate and express themselves: to speak their mother tongue clearly, to begin learning a second language, to learn to listen to other children, even if they do not speak their language or dialect; to understand the guidelines of the teacher/educator, to learn the rules of social life in a group: to ask to speak waiting their turn to speak, to try to understand the ones who speak differently; to connect the words that makes oral formulations to the corresponding graphical representation (writing); to recognize written words that indicate their name, the days of the week, areas of the classroom, pieces of furniture, games and material, names of food, of body parts, etc. • Learn that oral and written language are not the only form of communication: to learn to communicate and express themselves with gestures, signs, silences, songs and music, sounds produced by their own body and in interaction with other’s bodies, dance; expression through short poems, songs and oral tradition (chanting or nursery rhymes), dance, performing arts; to learn that our gesture may be extended to use other expressive instruments: the line drawn on the ground with a stick, the alignment of stones or shells, the drawing or painting on a sheet of paper; cutting and making of collages, three dimensional constructions, the painting of large collective posters agreed among children, the creation of books, playing musical instruments, etc. • Learn that mathematics is a way of organizing the world and solving problems: mathematics is a way to organize and systematise life -‐ the numbers and patterns, to be situated in space and time, size and proportion, before and after, left and right (and other forms of orientation in space), the shapes and colours, sets and singular pieces, all are natural ways that human beings gradually discovered to simplify life. The organization (mathematics) follows from that same process: to order, classify, to organize sets, measurements, weight... • Learn that we can grow by investigating and questioning reality (introduction to research and scientific thinking, using a methodology of “project work”): why things are like this? How can they be different? How many hypotheses are there? What predictions can be made? What we already know about a given problem or situation and what we still need to know? Who does what? When do we gather to share information? Have we
checked our assumptions? Have we tested them? What were the results? Which wrong deductions did we make? What have we learned afresh? How to spread to others what we have learned? Perhaps “begin to learn by using other relevant technology and media”? Learning to contemplate the good, the beautiful, the transcendent, experimenting the joy of being alive and healthy and aware of being interdependent from each other: to listen to others and help them, without taking away their dignity, to respect and welcome differences, to learn with other children and adults, including teachers, to learn to cooperate, to appreciate silence but also the noisy and spontaneous play; in nature to admire the surrounding beauty, to learn to be supportive and learn citizenship practice and participation at their level and to the extent of their possibilities to rely religious experiences with the sense of the transcendence.
4. Relationship with Primary Education The issue of transition to primary education is crucial and has been for long time internationally discussed. Transition is essential in a child's life and it is important to ensure that any transition is successful, so as to ensure the emotional and social well-‐being of the child: from the family to the reception service for children from 0 to 3 years old or to the pre-‐school; and from pre-‐school to primary education. Since the seventies, international studies explained the necessity of organizing more flexibly the last pre-‐school year and the first year of compulsory education, and intentionally preparing the transition. For many years, it was thought that a positive contribution in primary education was made through direct induction procedures, namely using initiation to writing and reading cards or graphical exercises on graph paper. More recent studies point to a broad set of key skills indicating a positive insertion into compulsory schooling: - the capability to learn to learn; - social cooperation skills; - self-‐confidence and capability of children to integrate and assert themselves in a group of peers: some authors call this ability the agency, which implies that the child is active, conscious of her own power, knowing that they are valuable and important and, therefore, able to make an important contribution to the diverse social groups they are part of; - the ability of self-‐control, including individual control, concentration and coping with failure; - the acquisition of work habits which emerges from an internalized attitude of discipline; - resilience, e.g., the ability to adapt and the ability to cope with changes in a positive and dynamic way, considering the difficulties or problems as a stimulus and an opportunity; resilience leads the child to be strong, optimistic, with a dynamic creativity in face of adversity, positively incorporating them in their development. Through the development of these skills, preschool teachers and primary school must create processes of transition. They can see identify work areas that may facilitate good articulation. In this context there's no more this or that (insisting in the differences), there will be this and that, assuming an attitude of inclusion and cooperation, of negotiation, mutual respect, curiosity for what is happening in every level of education and furthermore, an attitude of wanting to learn from the other educational level. IV. Development of Family and Community Partnerships Children's original families and communities are essential partners in the construction of reception projects and structures of care. They must be heard and integrated into the design of
education proposals for their children. On the other hand, children's settings should reflect a sense of community life, teaching children to live together in the context of diversity. Preschool teachers must begin their work using a pedagogy of articulation with families. Families can socially and educationally benefit from the institutions their children attend. Attention needs to be paid to the original maternal language of each family. The child should enter preschool having there an adult (preschool teachers or assistant teachers) who speaks her mother tongue. The institutions for children can became a driving force for life in the community, promoting language and culture, including projects for adult education and training, specifically for women. Preschool teachers must also find diverse strategies to involve the families, especially those who have more difficulty in getting to the preschool. Preschool teachers should listen to the perspectives of families, guiding them, but always making them feel competent and confident of their role in educating their children. Families are an essential resource for the school. International studies indicate that there is no quality in early childhood education without an effective involvement of families. The involvement of families and communities is part of a political strategy of local inclusion of the institution for the children. A broad and comprehensive concept of family is taken, as an unconditional community of affection and care for children, regardless of how it is structured. Ministry of Education needs to support the creation of parent associations or even parent/teachers associations and take them as important entities when developing this strategic plan. V. Development of a standards based monitoring and evaluation system The Government must regulate, supervise, monitor and inspect. At the same time, the government role is to include, promote, decentralize and encourage by providing support, promoting innovation, autonomy, accountability and research. The Government must also: -
Recognize the possibility of different forms of children's services in the years 3 to 5 in adapting to local context and possibilities, but always safeguarding the educational role and support for families. Timor-‐Leste Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 aims at “providing a revised plan of government school buildings, either reutilizing empty classrooms to open newly early childhood classrooms or building new classrooms in existing schools (p. 69); Establishing educational and technical standards and criteria for preschools and/or its adaptation: financing, facilities, materials and equipment rules, schedules of the facilities, families' contributions, broad curriculum guidelines. Timor-‐Leste Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 highlights also “the preparation of school accreditation policies and guidelines for registration and operation of private schools will be necessary to later monitoring the functioning of the system” (p. 69); Enhancement of professionals and auxiliary staff and their commitment to initial and continuous training; To guarantee health conditions for the children who will attend pre-‐schools: immunizations, adequate food and health. This can be achieved in coordination with local health clinics or community health centres. To study the possibility of providing nutritional meals in preschools Encourage involvement of local communities in preschools, its representatives and leaders, holding them responsible and assigning them supervision and regulation tasks in cooperation with local administration;
Timor-‐Leste Strategic Plan for Education 2011-‐2015 considers ”the need to develop and implement a system to monitor and assure preschool quality (…) and develop school standard criteria and develop standards for pre-‐schools”(p. 71). The role of the Ministry of Education is: to define rules to assess the quality of preschools from the educational and social point of view; assigning assessment parameters according to curriculum guidelines: promoting democratic evaluation projects, focused on listening to the pre-‐ schools and related personnel; setting progressive goals/targets for improvement promoted by the school team who will be responsible for its implementation ;involving professionals, families and children in the process of change; Ensure justice and social equity, safeguarding the principle of equal opportunities : Discriminate in favour, of the most disadvantaged children, ensuring them preschools of high quality: their families are less informed in order to demand high quality services for their young children; Ensure updated and reliable statistics and accurate charts of the coverage ratios for preschools throughout the country, identifying their type; Promote research and systematic assessment of the implementation of the Policy Framework for Preschool Education in Timor-‐Leste and the implementation of its Action Plan for next five years It is crucial to produce evidence based research, using case studies, studies of evaluation, pilot implementation, etc.
The challenges ahead depend on a joint forces project. This means to weave these policies into work. Again the metaphor of the TAIS that has been used makes sense. Only through networking, bringing together efforts under a clear leadership, it is possible to make this TAIS happen: a system of multiple players under the coordination of the Ministry of Education.
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Acronyms CONECTIL – National Council for Catholic Education ECEWG – Early Childhood Education Working Group EMIS – Education Management Information System ICRC – International Convention on the Rights of the Child IEU – Inclusive Education Unit IFU – Infrastructure Unit INFORDEPE –Instituto Nacional de Formação de Docentes e Profissionais de Educação INGO – International Non-‐Governmental Organization MOE – Ministry of Education MOH – Ministry of Health MOJ – Ministry of Justice MSA – Ministry of State Administration (Estatal) MSS – Ministry of Social Solidarity NESP-‐ National Education Strategic Plan NDPE – National Directorate of Preschool Education NGO – Non-‐Governmental Organization PTA-‐ Parents-‐Teachers Association SAD – School Accreditation Department
Glossary Culture -‐ It is important to emphasize "culture" as a dynamic and changing concept. Cultures are transformed as they interact with different realities. In Timor-‐Leste there is a dialectical combination between "traditional culture" and "modernity" if we want education to aim for the future. On the other hand, we all know features of traditional cultures that must not be kept as they isolate a country and stop it from entering into a sustainable development. Day-‐care – terminology usually used to describe services for children from 0 to 3 (the word crèche, from French origin, is also frequently used Early Childhood Education – this term is used on a broader sense than “preschool”: it indicates all activities for care and development and education for children from 3 to 5. Early Childhood Care and Development – this term is used to define all care, development and educational activities for children from birth to 8 Kindergarten – terminology from German origin indicates preschools for children from 3 to 5. In certain countries it correspond to the year before entering primary school (see also: pre-‐primary classroom) Preschool Education – all activities (social, educational, health related, etc.) that prepare children for the entry in compulsory school Preschool teacher-‐ Professional teacher working with children from 3 to 5. Other denominations may be: kindergarten teacher, early childhood educator Pre-‐primary classroom – usually attached to a primary school this pre-‐primary is oriented for a more systematic preparation of 5 years old children for primary school Resilience – ability to adapt and to cope with changes, crisis and difficult circumstances in a positive and dynamic way School Accreditation – recognition that a school (or preschool) operates according to standards defined by Government Teacher Accreditation – recognition of previous training (both formal and non formal) and experience of teachers
A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR PRE-‐SCHOOL EDUCATION