Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Perspectives in Early Childhood Education: Belize, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador and Peru

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Perspectives in Early Childhood Education: Belize, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador and Peru

Article excerpt

"Children have a right, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to receive education, and early childhood education (ECE) must be considered part of this right."

A Global Scenario (June 9, 2012) Introduction

Early childhood education (ECE) provision is becoming a growing priority. During the past twenty years, Latin America has shown a growing recognition in the provision of educational programs for young children, birth to age eight, is essential. Urban and rural populations intimated in 2009, that many countries utilizing equitable access to quality early childhood programs is often seen by policy makers as a means of achieving economic and political goals (United Nations, 2012). Unfortunately, a pre-occupation with economic and political goals may conflict with the provision of quality programming for young children. Chavez and McConnell (2000) stated, "Early childhood education in Latin America has been fragmented, and in some places nonexistent. In general, those that are able to afford it place their children in private preschool programs or hire a staff person, servant, or babysitter to provide the daily custodial care for the child". (p. 159)

In a number of Latin American countries provisions for educating young children exist as intent to provide quality services. The continuing challenge is to finance, organize and regulate those well-meaning intentions. As the, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Starting Strong II, reported: "In many OECD countries, the level of regulation of services for children under three gives rise for concern: much of the child care sector is private and unregulated, with staff training and pedagogical programming being particularly weak." (OECD, 2006, p. 12)

Therefore, the objective of this article is two-fold. Firstly, to describe national policy efforts which regulate the education of young children consistently. And, secondly, to reflect the status of early childhood education programming; and to examine the possibilities for the improvement of the quality and accessibility of an education for all young children. Five Latin American nations have been chosen for examination, including: Belize, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru. The information in Table 1, offers insights to the levels of pre-primary education in the Latin American areas which shows a comparison with other regions in the world (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2007).

Gross school enrolment in pre-primary education in Latin America, compared to other regions of the world, 2007

Belizean Education for Early Childhood Country Profile

The country of Belize is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, in Central America with the Caribbean Sea coastal lines running along the northeastern side. Mexico borders the northwest side of Belize with Guatemala, running along the south and west side (Cook, 2010; Hope, 2010). Belize remains a country of strong diversity including: landscapes of mountainous ranges to dense rain forests and white sandy beaches. These areas surround approximately 900 historic Mayan temple ruins. The soil in Belize contains rich nutrients for growing leafy green vegetables. Over four hundred various sub-tropical fish habitat off the coastal shorelines with more than five hundred species of birds which average more diverse foul than any other country in the world (Hope, 2010; ChaaCreek, 2012; The World Bank--Belize, 2012).

The name of British Honduras was changed in 1973 to Belize and later gained independence from Great Britain in September, 1981 (ChaaCreek, 2012; The World Bank--Belize, 2012). The country of Belize is quite small, ranging 22,963 square kilometers and appears the size of the, State of Connecticut in the United States of America. Over one-hundred small islands, known as, 'Cayes', set off Belize among many obscure places in the world (ChaaCreek, 2012). …

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