During the throne speech on Sept. 23, the federal government announced a significant and sustained investment in a national early-learning and child-care system.
That’s great news according to Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, and she has some ideas about what such a system should look like.
Pacino-Ketchabaw, an expert in early childhood education focused on environmental and racialization issues in child care, has been studying the effectiveness (and likelihood) of such a program for nearly 20 years with collaborators from across the country.
“We have been waiting for this news for too many years,” said Pacini-Ketchabaw. “This is the chance to carefully think about what kind of child care system we want in Canada and more importantly, how do we do that?”
Pacini-Ketchabaw says any discussion about a national childhood care program needs to consider both structural and cultural factors.
“Structural factors are the ways in which early learning and care is going to be organized, accessed, used, funded, regulated and so on,” said Pacini-Ketchabaw. “For cultural factors, we need to ask the important question of what is going to happen after young children are placed within an early learning institution.”
Pacini-Ketchabaw wants children and families to have early childhood spaces that are dynamic, innovative, and importantly, that respond to the concerns of each local community.
“Cookie-cutter programs are inadequate for the challenges that we are facing right now – whether that is the global pandemic that is affecting of all us, climate change and other ecological disasters, gender inequality or the racism that so many children and families are experiencing in this country,” said Pacini-Ketchabaw. “As Canadians, we cannot afford to place young children in poor quality programs – that is, programs that lack the ability to inspire children to create other conditions in their own communities.”
The best way to create these inspiring spaces for young children, according to Pacini-Ketchabaw, is to fund and integrate the role of the pedagogist (an expert who studies the art and profession of education) within the national early learning and child care system. A pedagogist works alongside well-paid and highly educated early childhood educators.
“Research shows us that this role is key to support educators in creating the spaces that young children deserve. We know this from what we have learned from other G7 countries,” said Pacini-Ketchabaw.
Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.
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