"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, November 25, 2012

DepEd Raises Requirements, How About Salaries?

Recently, the Department of Education in the Philippines raised the requirements for kindergarten teachers:
The Department of Education has increased the qualifications for new kindergarten teacher applicants in line with the implementation of the K to 12 basic education program. 
Based on the department’s new guidelines, an applicant must have teaching experience and be a holder of specialized degrees on child education. 
These include bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education (ECE); Preschool Education; Family Life and Child Development; Elementary Education with specialization in Preschool or Early Childhood Education; and Elementary Education with a major in Teaching Early Grades. 
Applicants may also have a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with additional diplomas in ECE, including practice teaching in kindergarten education as well as those who majored in related courses with at least 18 units in ECE/Child Development including those in day care centers. 
Teachers with experience in teaching kinder or preschool, whether in public or recognized private schools, will be prioritized. 
Applicants must also hold a Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) license, a Professional Board Examination for Teacher (PBET) license, or both, and must not be more than 45 years old.

This news item elicited one comment:
"Tama yan itaas ang kwalipikasyon pero ITAAS NYO ANG SAHOD NG TEACHER!!!" (That is correct, raising qualifications, but you must raise the salaries of teachers)
This single comment surprisingly matches conclusions drawn by a recent study in Japan on the early childhood education, "Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care".




Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care
JAPAN

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) can bring a wide range of benefits – for children, parents and society at large. However, these benefits are conditional on “quality”. Expanding access to services without attention to quality will not deliver good outcomes for children or long-term productivity benefits for society.
This series of country reports focuses on quality issues. Each report tackles a specific theme that was selected by the country reviewed. These reports suggest strengths and point to areas for further reflection on current policy initiatives.

Contents
Chapter 1. Where does Japan stand regarding policy outcomes and inputs?
Chapter 2. What does research say?
Chapter 3. Where does Japan stand compared to other countries?
Chapter 4. What are the challenges and strategies?


OECD (2012), Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care: Japan 2012, OECD Publishing.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264176621-en
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The above study does mention the impact of teachers' qualifications. However, it likewise highlights the importance of treating justly early childhood teachers:

Page 28 of the report says:

WHY DO WORKING CONDITIONS MATTER FOR BETTER CHILD DEVELOPMENT?   
What are “working conditions”?  
Working conditions in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings are often referred to as structural quality indicators (e.g., wages, staff-child ratio, maximum group size, working hours, etc.) and other characteristics (e.g., non-financial benefits, team-work, manager’s leadership, workload, etc.) that can influence the ability of professionals to do their work well and their satisfaction with the workplace, work tasks and nature of the job.   
What is at stake?   
Attracting, training and retaining suitably qualified ECEC staff is a challenge. Good working conditions are strong incentives for qualified staff to enter the profession. Structural quality indicators have received ample attention because they can usually be regulated or guided at the national level. For staff quality, it is also crucial that practitioners are motivated and supported in applying what they have learned. The European Commission’s Early Matters symposium (European Commission, 2009) concluded that many research findings indicate that, in addition to the training and education of staff, staff working conditions are important in providing safe, healthy and good learning environments for children. In spite of these findings, the ECEC sector is usually associated with relatively poor working conditions and poor compensation leading to high turnover rates. ECEC centres often experience turnover rates exceeding 40% annually, undermining the quality of care (Moon and Burbank, 2004).   
Why do working conditions in ECEC matter?   
Research points out that the ability of staff to attend to the needs of children is influenced not only by their level of education and training but also by external factors, such as their work environment, salary and work benefits (Shonkoff and Philips, 2000). Working conditions can have an impact on staff job satisfaction and their ability to carry out their tasks; and their possibilities to positively interact with children, give them enough attention and stimulate their development.   
Strongly associated with stable, sensitive and stimulating interactions with children are the context and conditions in which a staff member works. One study found that low wages: i) effect the ways in which staff interact with children, and ii) are related to high turnover rates (Huntsman, 2008). High turnover rates can have a negative effect on ECEC quality since staff provision is less stable, which, in turn, can impact child development. When staff members regularly change within a group of children, staff and children are less able to develop stable relationships; and nurturing, stimulating interactions take place less often
(CCl, 2006).   
The body of research on the effects of working conditions on child development is not very extensive, and findings do not always point in the same direction. This is mainly because there is a complex inter-relationship between staff-child ratios, staff qualifications, quality and type of provision that makes it difficult to single out the effect of a particular characteristic of working conditions (Sammons, 2010)
Specific findings on how working conditions affect the quality of early childhood education are as follows:

Staff-child ratio 
Higher staff-child ratios, referring to a smaller number of children per staff, are usually found to enhance ECEC quality and facilitate better developmental outcomes for children.
Research suggests that it is not only the staff-child ratio but also the number of adults in a classroom that impacts quality and job satisfaction. The quality of the classroom environment is found to improve with every additional adult in the room. 
Low wages leading to less process quality for child development
Research has indicated that where there are very low wages in ECEC, it “impacts quality primarily by preventing qualified and committed individuals from considering working in child care or early education in the first place”

Workload
Heavy workloads are associated with stressed staff. Workload refers to the number of working hours, indicating the extent to which staff’s schedules are compatible with family life and the physical demands of the job. Large group sizes, low staff-child ratios and a heavy workload are potential stressors for ECEC practitioners. In general, stressed staff perform less well. Some research findings show the effects of workload on ECEC quality, indicating that practitioners with a heavy workload perform less well than colleagues with lighter schedules. 
Physical aspects of the setting
A rich playing and learning environment is found to be of importance. More space is considered beneficial for child development, although the full impact or effects of physical aspects remain unclear.
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It is easy to dismiss a posted comment on a news article. Unfortunately, we likewise dismiss results from research like the one cited here. Without providing kindergarten teachers better salaries and working conditions, how much the Philippine society would benefit from DepEd's K to 12 is uncertain. Early childhood education is sadly not a matter of "Having something is better than nothing". With poor quality, it can do harm to society.

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