Early Childhood Education in Ethiopia: Present Practices and Future Directions
Over the past several centuries worldwide, in most cases, only children of the nobilities were sent to schools with the intention of sharpening their abilities and preparing them for future leadership. But in the modern era, education is formally recognized as a human right for every individual, irrespective of the individual‘s ability, disability, age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other forms of differences. As a modern phenomenon, early childhood education is practiced in Ethiopia. With the opportunities and challenges, the practice of early childhood education continues to grow in coverage and participation. The current Ethiopian government, with the support of UNICEF, has drafted strategic operational plan and guidelines for early childhood care and education, and national policy framework for early childhood care and education. Access to early childhood education is growing over the years. Currently, government, private owners, NGOs, communities, and religious organizations are running ‗O‘ class, child to child and kindergarten programs and playing their part in educating children. Major challenges of the Ethiopian ECE are environment and physical space, curriculum content and pedagogy, early childhood educators and caregivers, partnership with families and communities and access to young children with special needs. In order to improve the practices, the future preschools of Ethiopia should work towards having (1) philosophies and goals, (2) high quality physical environments, (3) developmentally appropriate and effective pedagogy and curriculum, (4) attention to basic and special needs, (5) respect for families and communities, (6) professionally prepared teachers and staff, and (7) rigorous program evaluation.
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