Caring and Learning Together
Caring and Learning together
A cross-national study sponsored by UNESCO
on the integration of early childhood care and education
within education
Launceston, Tasmania, 8 June 2010
John Bennett, M.Ed. Ph.D.
education and then publications
An overview of the presentation
 Part I – An overview of the study
 The complexity of the early childhood field
 Centre-based care and centre-based education - two different histories
 The disadvantages of split systems
 Responses to split system inefficiencies
 Part II – A closer look at the countries under review
 When and how did the transfer take place
 The extent of integration
 Consequences & lessons from countries that have integrated within education
Part III - Conclusions
 The process of integration presents several opportunities
 But there are several caveats …
Part I
An overview of the study
The complexity of the early childhood field
 Early childhood services (ECS) are complex. They are concerned
not only with childcare and early education, but also with child
health and nutrition, social welfare and protection. Also, they
are closely linked to maternal protection, parental leave, female
employment and equal opportunities, family poverty issues –
different tasks, different ministries
 To simplify, we chose in this study to focus on the largest
educational service for young children, namely centre-based
early care and centre-based early education services
 Our task was to explore the movement to conceptualise early
care as education, why this was taking place and what were the
advantages and disadvantages of integrating the early care
sector into education
The part falling to education ministries alone is again far more complex
than traditional education policies
health services
that meet
vision, hearing,
behavioural and
oral health as
well as medical
health needs
Health, Mental Health
& Nutrition
Early identification,
assessment and
appropriate services for
children with special
health care needs,
disabilities, or
developmental delays
Needs/ Early
Early care and
education in
environments where
children can learn
what they need to
succeed in school
and life
Economic and parenting
supports to ensure
children have nurturing
and stable relationships
with caring adults
Centre-based care and education – two different histories
 Early care – emerging in the 19th century as a charitable
movement toward abandoned children and then to the children
of the poor.. A health and hygiene focus because of the terrible
infant mortality of the time
 Early education emerging around the same time to provide EE for
middle-class children. Strongly influenced by empire and nation
building (national language ... junior school), but also influence
of Froebel, Pestalozzi (German-speaking countries and Nordics)
and later Maria Montessori...
 Care services migrate into the ambit either of health or social
services; early education is taken over by MoEs and primary
Split or integrated services
Selected countries
Unitary or split ECEC
Ministry responsible for services for:
0-3 years
3-6 years
Services age-integrated
or age-separated
DK Denmark
FR France
IT Italy
Family Affairs (municipal)
HU Hungary
NO Norway
PL Poland
PT Portugal
SI Slovenia
SE Sweden
UK United Kingdom
Pt Unitary
Unitary: government responsibility covers access, funding, regulation and workforce integrated across all ECEC services;
Pt (part) Unitary indicates that government responsibility is integrated, but not all the other dimensions.
Split: split systems occur when government responsibility for ECEC is divided between two ministries, generally based on the
age of children, with Ministries of Social Welfare (Health, or Family Affairs) given responsibility for young children 0-3 years
and to Ministries of Education for 3-6s. Ministerial responsibility can be more or less great depending on the degree of
decentralisation practised in this field, e.g. in Italy, most dimensions are devolved to municipalities.
The rationale for split systems
 Respect for tradition – we’ve inherited a split system... Mustn’t
upset other ministries ... Reflex of incrementalism... Inertia (ECEC
– and social affairs in general – considered unimportant)
 Because early childhood policy is complex, it may be necessary –
in particular country circumstances - to involve more than one
 MoH - Pre- and post-natal care, followed in many countries by parental care
supported by health services, home visiting…
 MoSW - Social protection and targeted programmes for poor families in the
domain of social welfare
 MoE - Social and cognitive development under education (beginning at 2, 3,
4, or 5 years)
 To avoid inter-ministerial conflict, some countries appoint a
dedicated child agency to take care of the age group (0-3s) in an
integrated way
The disadvantages of split systems
 However, analysis of the sector suggests that ministries find it hard to
work together. Comprehensive, integrated services are rare...
 Wasteful duplication of resources ...
 In addition, their vision (conceptualisation) of services differ greatly.
These different understandings result in different programme goals,
different contents and approaches to young children
 Centre-based services are likewise structured in different ways with
respect to service types, workforce, access criteria, funding and
regulation (including curriculum), e.g.
 Differences in entitlement policies, opening hours, regulatory frameworks,
staff training and qualification requirements; failure to take a holistic
approach to children’s needs; and discontinuities experienced by children
transiting from one service to another.
Responses to split system inefficiencies
 Inter-ministerial co-ordination mechanisms... But generally
unsuccessful in promoting a coherent overall policy and administrative
framework across sectors.
 Municipal integration – but as the case of Ghent shows, such initiatives
are limited by the centralised structures.
 Integration under social welfare aiming at the social development of
the child, parents and community. The Nordic countries pioneered this
policy approach in the 1960s and 70s.
 Since the late 1980s, the trend has been toward integration of ECCE
within education: e.g. Iceland, New Zealand (1986), Vietnam (1986),
Spain (1990), Botswana (1994), Brazil (1996), Slovenia (1996), Sweden
(1996), England (1998), Jamaica (1998), Scotland (1998), Zambia (2004),
Norway (2005) and Romania (2008)... (Russia 1917).
Reasons for the choice of education
 Public education highlights free access or at least affordability,
entitlement, a concern for a (relatively) well trained workforce, and
curriculum as a basic tool for practice.
 Education stresses the importance of lifelong learning and a recognition
that children are learners from birth. Education ministries have a
greater concern for laying a strong foundation for successful schooling
and learning to live together.
 Parents find the education infrastructure more transparent, compared
to the social sector. Education provides an easily recognisable network
of services for young children that links into schooling.
 The risks associated with integration within education are: turning ECCE
services more “school-like” in terms of opening hours, staffing, adultchild ratios, pedagogy and physical settings; and dissociation of ECCE
from welfare, health and other related areas.
The CLT study - research objectivity
 The CLT project recognises and appreciates other policy options
for achieving more coordinated approaches, e.g. through
integration within social affairs. For this reason, the study
includes a country (Finland) that has integrated childcare and
early education very successfully within social welfare.
 The study offers a critical perspective on how education has
handled the pre-school education of young children in some
countries and seeks to provide a better understanding of the
perspectives of countries that have not adopted the option.
 The study includes three countries or regions that have chosen to
continue with split systems (Belgium Flanders, France, Hungary),
in order to provide a better understanding of the case for not
adopting integration-within-education.
Limitations of the study
 The country reports on which this study is based include very
different countries. The evidence presented needs careful
interpretation in light of these different contexts
 Several country reports are partial, due especially to the absence
of ongoing, long-term evaluations of system change
 The UNESCO team did not have the opportunity to combine
national reports with site visits
 The difficulty (impossibility?) of knowing what would have
happened if reform had not taken place.
 Despite these limitations, the study provides valuable
information on why integration within education was
undertaken and how it was implemented.
Part II
A closer look at the countries under review
What countries were studied // methodology
 5 countries integrating ECS within education: Brazil, Jamaica, New
Zealand, Slovenia and Sweden. A further study of an integrated
municipality, Ghent, was also included...
 1 country integrating ECS within social affairs, viz. Finland
 3 countries that continue with split systems, namely Belgium Flanders,
France and Hungary
 Methodology: Experts in each country were contracted to prepare
structured country reports on the question. The UNESCO authors
designed a report structure and questions to elicit detailed information
on all aspects of integration: history, rationales, acceptance/refusal,
processes, and results.
 Several interviews with selected authors were undertaken, including
one with East Germany...
When and why did transfer to education take place?
 The transfer of responsibility of ECCE to education has varied
considerably among the five case countries studied.
 Slovenia and Sweden already had experienced a wholly or partially
integrated system before the transfer to education in 1992 and 1996
 In New Zealand, Brazil and Jamaica, integration and transfer to education
took place in 1986, 1996 and 1998 respectively
 In all cases, the transfer was based on a consensus that care and
education are inseparable; in two cases the process involved a
wider campaign involving diverse groups in civil society
 The rationale for change varies between countries but in all
cases it has been strong and principled, rather than a purely
pragmatic concern, for example, to cut costs or boost school
The extent of integration
 The extent of integration – how far the process has gone beyond
transferring government responsibility for ECCE into education –
varies considerably across the countries:
 Integration has gone further and deeper in Slovenia and Sweden, which
share a concept of pedagogy that integrates care and education.
 In Sweden, integration has gone furthest to include the integration of the
workforce, of financing, of regulation, of organisation and structuring at local
level, of national and municipal inspection (but with inspection teams fit-forpurpose). In addition, curricula are linked and a broad consensus has formed
around ‘Norms and Values’, which emphasise – at all levels of education –
democracy, care and consideration towards others, solidarity, gender
equality and tolerance.
 In their integration efforts, Brazil and Jamaica face the biggest challenges, as
they have begun their reform only within the last few years, with deeply split
systems and significantly fewer resources than the other richer countries;
nevertheless they have made progress by undertaking curricular and
regulatory integration and by upgrading the workforce...
 The experience of Ghent (Belgium Flanders) shows the possibilities and
limitations of reform at local level, when a strong national system is also in
place (compare Italy).
Lessons from the 5 countries that have integrated ECS within education
Mostly, integration within education has been very positive, esp. for children under 3
years and for services and staff that cater for this younger group. These children are
enjoy both care and education.
Integration has greatly improved curriculum development & pedagogical work, e.g. NZ...
 The link with education inspired the creation of the Te Whariki curriculum and a
specific learning evaluation instrument: ‘Learning Stories’ (Carr, 2001).
 Even more striking have been workforce changes: higher qualifications for ECEC staff
and improvements in pay supported by the creation in 1994 of a combined union for
early childhood and primary school teachers.
 “A continued growth in the number of students in, and graduates from, early
childhood teacher education colleges’ (Ministry of Education (2007a, p.40).
Four of the five countries now have a recognised early years professional , a graduate
level worker educated to work with both under and over 3 years olds... except Jamaica
and Ghent (much improvement).
in Sweden and Slovenia, a universal entitlement to services, at least from 12 months, has
resulted, with clear evidence in Sweden of a significant narrowing of inequalities in
access. Likewise, in Ghent...
Lessons from countries that have not integrated ECCE
 The study examined the cases of Belgium Flanders, France and Hungary
and carried out extensive interviews, particularly in Flanders
 Why do these countries not integrate their services?
 In the first two countries, the care system has been systematised for many
years; it is predominantly public and heavily subsidised for modest-income
families. There is little or no demand for integration.
 A second reason is the fear that the childcare sector – and its traditions - may
be overwhelmed by, and lost in, a strong school-like early education system.
 Another barrier in Belgium Flanders and France is the separate political
traditions of the childcare and early education sectors...
 Integration has also economic implications, in particular, the costs of
upgrading the childcare workforce
In Hungary, the childcare sector has been greatly weakened since transition. As
there is growing demand and spaces exist within the kindergarten system, the
question of integration within education has been discussed . In addition, the
term ‘nevelés’ has a central role in all early childhood work in Hungary...
Part III
What did we learn?
A clearer understanding of integration
 It is useful to think of integration as having two aspects:
conceptual integration (i.e. how do we think about integration),
and structural integration (i.e. how do we organise ECCE).
 Conceptual integration : all actors share an understanding of
what ECEC is for and what it is doing, and how far integration is
expressed in a common language.
 Structural integration: six areas of structural integration: (1)
policy making and administration, (2) access to services, (3)
funding, (4) regulation, including curriculum or similar guidelines,
(5) workforce, including structure, education and pay, and (6)
type of provision.
A few words from
the father of child psychology
Jean Piaget 1896-1980
Integration within education presents several opportunities
ECCE services can be integrated successfully within a number of policy
domains, as long as young children are an important focus of the
ministry in charge.
 Overall, integration within education is more likely to achieve:
Universal entitlement,
Affordable access,
A unified and well educated workforce,
Enhanced learning for all ages, and
Smoother transitions for young children
 Finland, an exception, but it is structured as a typical Nordic, social
democratic welfare state with strong entitlements to services...
Welfare systems in other countries make them a less suitable location
for integrating ECCE.
But there are several caveats …
 The concepts and processes of integration are complex
 Some contexts need primarily infant health (pre- and postnatal care) and parenting support
 Integration is not an inevitability but a possibility. Much
depends on the interplay of barriers to change and drivers
for change.
 Deep integration requires careful thought about the
conditions needed... There are risks involved...
 A major question: can education think broadly enough?
The language and cognitive development of 0-3s is often underestimated
Human Brain Development – Synapse Formation
The years from birth – to – three are an optimal time
to support language and cognitive growth.
(vision, hearing)
Cognitive Function
Source: Chuck Nelson, in From Neurons to Neighborhoods,2000.
Lessons on how to integrate within education
 At national level, there is a need for:
 Leadership, alliances with the major stakeholders and
advocacy based on strong arguments, are needed to get
reform moving…
 A resolve not to create other divisions in the sector, e.g.
splitting services into public and for-profit private (UK...).
For-profit interests will by necessity impede progress
 Action at all levels of government and the formulation of
strong and integrative concepts on which to build
substantive reform (a primary education approach is not
 To get change into actual practice a strategy is necessary
– including resources and materials, support to workers
and training, and time - not least to analyze and reflect
on practice.
Thank you !