Value-based regulation of early childhood education and care for equity and inclusiveness
The early childhood education and care (ECEC) field across the world has undergone many changes in the past decades, with partly promising but partly also threatening developments. There is definitively a trend towards more unification and integration, and also the availability and accessibility of ECEC have increased substantially in many countries, at least for the 3- to 6-year-olds. These developments reflect the increasing awareness that high quality ECEC can contribute importantly to tackling pertinent societal issues such as educational inequality and social exclusion. At the same time countries are struggling with the governance and funding of ECEC. Increased privatization and marketization have contributed to the expansion of ECEC provision and have led to increased access for all children, but major challenges remain regarding the quality and inclusiveness of ECEC and related support services. Especially the inclusion of children from migrant and ethnic minority communities is an urgent, still unresolved issue, calling for policies that can eliminate financial and cultural barriers. Most countries nowadays have hybrid ECEC systems, with public and private organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, operating in a partly harmonized market. Whereas governance and harmonization strategies still predominantly focus on regulation of costs-related structural quality characteristics, evidence suggests that value-based governance, giving statutory prominence to children’s rights and to the principles of equity and (cultural) inclusiveness, together with decentralization of responsibilities to the local level holds the best promise for reaching out to all children while maintaining high quality.
About Paul Leseman:
Paul Leseman obtained his MSc (major in psychology, minor in linguistics) at the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in the social sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Read more