The National, Friday 10th May 2013
EARLY childhood education is crucial to child development and should be entered into cautiously using qualified teachers, according to an education official.
Bougainville’s chief executive officer for education Bruno Babato was reacting to media reports that early childhood learning programmes were sprouting like mushrooms in Bougainville.
“Our concern is that in Bougainville the early childhood teachers undergo one week against the standard international best practices.
“Even in many countries, including Papua New Guinea, early childhood courses are four-year degree programme and not one-week courses like what is happening in Bougainville,” he said.
Babato said teachers entrusted to guide early childhood development should have more training such as in Australia and New Zealand who would not allow anyone with a one-week training to be responsible for children at that age.
“Researchers and early childhood educators both view the parents as an integral part of the early childhood education process.
“Often educators refer to parents as the child’s first and best teacher,” he said.
Babato said it was very important for parents to be engaged in their children’s learning process even if they were getting most of their education from a day-care centre or school.
Babato said early childhood learning centres in Bougainville were being established for financial reasons and parents must be wary of them.
“It means childhood leaning programmes have the potential to do more harm than good,” he said.
Babato said of greater concern was that the centres in Bougainville lacked proper facilities such as classrooms and toilets.
“In other countries it is mandatory to provide necessary resources and facilities of a very high standard.”
Babato said early childhood learning or kindergarten education came under the Department of Community Development.
In Bougainville it is the ABG Division of Community Development and not the Department of Education.