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Early Childhood Education in Small Island States: A Very British Story

Baldacchino, Anna (2018) Early Childhood Education in Small Island States: A Very British Story. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

How postcolonialism has impacted primary, secondary and tertiary education in small island states (defined as those each with a resident population of up to one million) is well documented. This research study is inspired by postcolonial theory, island studies and small state studies, extending this analysis to the practice and pedagogy of early childhood education (2 - 5 years) in such countries. The study explores the origins and character of colonial lingering in the pedagogy and practice of early childhood education in small island states, with special reference to Malta and Grenada, both former British colonies. Interviews, observations and focus groups have been conducted in both countries. An online questionnaire was completed by 64 individuals residing in the world’s 27 small island states, (and of which 20 secured independence from Britain). The research findings suggest a colonial lingering in early childhood education in small island states. Manifestations of this include: the preference for school uniforms; the widespread use of standard English as the language of instruction; a top-down, exam-driven pedagogy that obliges an early start to schooling; and a strong focus on literacy and numeracy in the early years. There are also restrictions in play-based learning; and story books, weather and alphabet charts that are not necessarily relevant to the country’s culture and tradition and written in the English language, even though Malta and Grenada have their own vernacular. Being a small island state has its challenges. Findings from this research suggest that role multiplicity, as well as a relative lack of expertise, funding and resources, are impacting on the pedagogy and practices of early childhood education in such countries. Recommendations from this study include: a stronger acknowledgment of the vernacular, teaching aids that are more contextually and culturally sensitive, the provision of adequate funding and training, together with continuous support and mentoring when implementing new early years polices. The findings encourage a sober and critical reflection of the policies and practices governing early childhood education in small island states.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Malta, Grenada, Early Childhood Education, Small Island States, Postcolonialism, Language.
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Ms Anna Baldacchino
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 15:15
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2019 15:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23004

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