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Home arrow Education arrow Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: History, Pedagogy, and Liberation

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Waitangi Tribunal reports

The Waitangi Tribunal (2012) report documents how Kohanga Reo (TKR), wanting to raise quality by employing additional qualified staff (according to the Kohanga Reo determination of what counts as “qualified”), struggled under the structural inequities. The system “failed to cover the extra cost [of employing credentialed staff] as it did for teacher-led ECE centers . . . [which was] an unacceptable limitation built into the structure of the Crown’s funding regime” (p. 232). The nonrecognition of the qualification mandated by the TKR National Trust Board as a teaching qualification (Te Tohu Whakapakari), as found by the Waitangi Tribunal, effectively blocked TKR from accessing teacher- led rates (p. 53).

Funding inequities

The rapidly changing policy environment in early years’ education was all about “professionalizing” the teaching profession. Hegemonic “quality” discourses were flavor of the day, eventually becoming tightly linked to funding. The Tribunal argued that the Crown funding regime simply did not provide equity with the funding available to other parts of the ECE sector and that, in any event, Kohanga Reo should be able to advance their own determinants of “quality.” It also argued that Kohanga Reo should not be compelled to adopt the Crown’s measures for assessing and improving quality for other ECE services, simply to achieve parity in funding (p. 331). As first argued by Skerrett-White (2001) and later by the Waitangi Tribunal (2010, 2012), the inequitable parent-led/teacher-led divide in ECCE (see Chapter 2) resulted in a steady decline of Kohanga Reo who were, and still are, the major providers of bilingual immersion education in the ECE sector. That puts the whole Maori stream of education at risk. Pathways to the Future (Ministry of Education, 2002) was the policy document that created the divide, perhaps inadvertently so. Rather than creating parallel pathways for the Maori stream, it collapsed the sectors into one pathway (ruled by whitestream definitions of policy), essentially inhibiting the Maori stream or Maori immersion pathway. This phenomenon is endemic in colonial systems where one pathway ends up being validated and legitimated; the other sits outside the system. The error is that if the measure of “quality” was the extent to which whitestream ECE centers were meeting the rights of all children in Aotearoa to a bilingual-bicultural education, then in fact whitestream funding would cease. It is only the Maori-medium part of the sector that is currently meeting this “quality” measure. Kohanga Reo has been successful in creating Maori/English bilingual speakers (MEBS). Such success has been well documented (see Ministry of Education, 2013b; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Report, 2010). The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Report (2010) describes how the Kohanga Reo movement demonstrates what a powerful force indigenous language revitalization can be, not only for education but also for social cohesion. Monolingual English settings produce monolingual monocultural children, totally out of step with Te Whariki. It is asserted here that a definer of “quality” in concert with Te Whariki has to be the extent to which a center promotes MEBS and bicultural- ism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, bilingualism being the first step to entry into a pluralistic society. Hornberger (2008) provides further ideological clarification around this issue particularly in terms of bilingual education and its relationship to multilingual/multicultural education. She argues that at its best it is:

  • 1 multilingual in that it uses and values more than one language in teaching and learning;
  • 2 intercultural in that it recognizes and values understanding and dialogue across diverse lived experiences and cultural worldviews; and education that draws out the knowledge/s students bring to the educational setting.

Hornberger clearly positions bilingual education on the multilingual continuum. She also legitimates and validates the heritage knowledge/s and language/s that are located in communities and how they can be brought into the educational setting through bilingual/immersion programs. Heritage/majority language bilingualism provides an awareness of self (and thus a determination of self) and also of others: other culture/s, values, and meta-ways of thinking and knowing.

 
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