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Why does quality in preschool instruction things? Investigate confirmations have set up that each child’s early encounters, whether at domestic, in child care, or in other preschool settings, things .The child is respected as the gem of the country as children are potential pioneers of tomorrow. Thus approximately 40% of preschool aged children do not attend preschool or have the opportunity to do so. Children exposed to a poor-quality environment, whether at home or outside the home, are less likely to excel and perform well in elementary schools. Enhancement of quality preschools must be addressed at both the more macro and micro level .Early brain and child development research un- equivocally demonstrates that human development is powerfully affected by learning during the foundation years. A child’s day-to-day experiences affect the structural and functional development of his or her brain, including intelligence and personality. Experiences influence every child’s development and learning, and these experiences can be positive or negative, with long consequences for the child, family, and society.
Studies on high-quality, intensive early childhood education programs for low-income children confirm lasting positive effects such as greater school success, higher graduation rates, lower juvenile crime, decreased need for special education services later, and lower adolescent pregnancy rates. Children who attend high quality early childhood programs demonstrate better math and language skills, better cognition and social skills, better interpersonal relationships, and better behavioral self-regulation than do children in lower-quality care. Inferior-quality care, at home or outside the home, can have harmful effects on language, social development, and school performance that are more difficult to ameliorate, especially for children in schools with fewer resources. The positive effects from high-quality programs and the negative effects from poor-quality programs are magnified for children from disadvantaged situations or with special needs.
The data was collected using a focus group round table discussion involving five groups of six members with a balance of males and females and mixed experiences; Both teachers lecturers education officials and students were in each discussion group. The round table was conducted and sponsored by the Malaysian Council of Professors .The focus group discussion was guided by the main question which is open ended “What are the issues and challenges facing early childhood and preschool education in Malaysia which affect quality?. Each group discusses the same question concurrently with other groups .At the end of the discussion each group responses were tabulated and emerging themes were identified reflected in the following domains:(a) Curriculum and curriculum related issues (b) Management & monitoring Learning (c)Teaching & Learning (d) Philosophy and goals (f) Equity and Accessibility (g) Parental Involvement.
The responses indicated the need to learn many languages to be seen as a future global player. To compete internationally children should be multi lingual knowing English, Korean or Japanese and their mother tongues. It is best to learn many languages. Malay preschool children being Muslims should learn Arabic. The younger they start the better. Children should be exposed to many languages other than the mother tongue. Make multilingualism compulsory at the preschool level. An issue of importance is the curricular orientation as described below. Preschools should promote the total and holistic development in children; Children should be encouraged to participate in various sports and school clubs. The curriculum should emphasized values and personality development which rather appear to be more of the hidden curriculum. Each stakeholder has to understand role of teachers, community leaders, and parent’s in developing quality preschool education. They should be given the opportunity to discuss issues on curriculum and make the curriculum alive.
Responses also revealed that the curriculum should be pragmatic and global by nature such as the curriculum need to include knowledge of Malaysia, Asia and the world and not limited to learning about Malaysia only. Curriculum should address global skills such as ICT skills and higher order of thinking skills including conflict resolutions. Stress was given on multiculturalism in Malaysia. Malaysia is multi racial society and the Prime Minister propagated the 1 Malaysia concepts. Yet preschools in Malaysia are more heterogeneous in nature “Thus every preschool should take into account the need to instill respect and tolerance among the ethnic groups. The Continuity of the Curriculum was also mentioned as described as there should be continuity between the preschool curriculum (0-4) to (4-6 year old) and to the elementary school. Care should be taken to ensure the gap between types of preschools and to ensure the curriculum given to children is not so far apart as to affect Year One entry into the elementary school.
The responses regarding monitoring highlight the necessity to have proper supervision as to the quality of preschools and teachers’ self-evaluation. Although the government stipulated the need to implement the National Standard Preschool Curriculum as the guidelines we have no way of monitoring whether this directive has been adhered to as there are too many preschool centers and fewer supervisors. There is need to obtain feedback from all stakeholders in the community as to the quality of the preschools in both urban and rural areas. Preschool teachers are themselves leaders at the preschool centers. Thus there is need to develop strong leadership skills and to do self-reflection and self-evaluation. Parents should also be actively involved in providing feedback about the quality of preschools their children attend too.
Teaching and learning in the preschool classroom. Responses on teacher competencies and classroom climate were also recorded which delve into several aspects including career pathways, lack of male teachers and teaching competencies. Preschool teachers with proficiency in English are greatly needed. Teachers do not have the self-confidence to Communicate in the English language. Teaching learning climate varies from preschool centers: those that do not value play seems not to use play as a method in teaching preschool children; teachers say parents do not seem to like the play approach. Classes at the preschool centers are normally of one age group and do not cater for mixed abilities. Children with special needs are not included in the normal Preschools due to administrative reasons. Why are there so few male preschool teachers? Males should be encouraged to teach preschoolers so that they can model male behaviors. Preschool teachers need to teach using varied approaches in the preschool class; however there should also be creativity in teaching using varied methods to avoid boredom and poor responses from the children.
Responses on the philosophical aspect were given pertaining to national unity, diversity and the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged preschools. As Malaysia is multi-racial and as national unity is important regardless of types of preschool there should be curriculum designed for the interaction among all ethnic groups. The philosophy of early childhood in Malaysia should ensure the sustainability of national unity and integration and respect for all cultures. Accessibility and Equity were seen to be highly important for social justice and are affected by many factors. Diverse groups should be well accommodated into the preschools; these include the Down syndrome, the mentally retarded, the autistic and the slow learners. Preschools differed across states, by gender and socio-economic status and location. Street children and stateless children have nowhere to go; they do not have the opportunity to enter schools due to their status.
The responses on parental involvement indicated the more meaningful roles of parents in preschool education. There is need to increase parental education as parents is partners in educating their children. However parents are either too busy with their work and have no time to devote to their children’s preschools or the parents are too shy to come forward. Parents participation are limited to involving themselves in the fieldtrips; donating to buy props for the concert and baking cakes for the parents day nothing more meaningful. Parents need to voice feedback to ensure the preschool is improving its programs continuously.
The above findings revealed the issues surrounding preschool education in Malaysia. The issues revolved around both the macro and micro levels and touch comprehensively the significant domains of education. The issues mentioned need to be addressed to develop a more quality delivery of preschool education services. The issues also demonstrate the need for reflection and improving the management of preschool; There’s definitely a need to evaluate the preschool scenario in all components both formatively and summative. Parents being teachers themselves should become familiar with the essential components of quality programs. As trusted family advisors responsible for the well-being of children, they should know the essential components of quality and use the quality framework in choosing preschools for their children. Programs that should be increased to improve the quality of early experiences for young children, i n c l u d e home visiting and early literacy family programs which need coordinated funding and support. The aspiration to place Malaysia education world class quality demands that teacher training takes into account the teacher’s qualification and proficiency in English Language and a world class preschool teacher training involving the universities.
The findings of the study revealed the issues and challenges of preschool education in Malaysia. There were several restraining forces mentioned that may impact quality delivery of preschool services. The policy makers and practitioners a well as preschool experts at all community levels should collaborate to address the fundamental issues in preschool education in Malaysia mentioned in this study Also, conversations about quality should always emphasize that quality programs include parental involvement and a strong psychologically safe healthy environment. The study has several limitations and future studies of a similar nature should embark on a deeper analysis of the preschool scenario in Malaysia.
Various issues need to be taken into consideration by parents when choosing preschool for their children. Looking at the choice of modern parents towards preschools and why they do it makes the problem that requires a study need to be done.Therefore, this situation has become our main objective to examine the issues and challenges in preschool education in Malaysia and suggests recommendation to enhance quality. This is a preliminary study involving a purposive sample of 50 involving preschool providers, teachers, university lecturers, postgraduate and undergraduate students who have completed their practicum in preschool. The data was obtained through a roundtable focus group discussion. The findings of the study indicate several pertinent issues involving the main factors that influence parents’ choice of preschools are types of preschool and institutional factors such as curriculum, branding, private-run institutions, safety and security, quality of teaching and English medium and religion-based preschools are the preferred preschools chosen by the parents. Thus, this study has implications for the emerging trends and implications for preschool education in Malaysia in the future. Recommendations are forwarded to enhance the quality of preschool and early Child Care and Education.