Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Parents' Values of Early Childhood Education and Care in Russia: Discovering the Dimensions Via Coding and Category Clustering

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Parents' Values of Early Childhood Education and Care in Russia: Discovering the Dimensions Via Coding and Category Clustering

Article excerpt

Problem Statement

Over the last 20 years, the subject of early childhood education and care (ECEC) has received growing attention in the area of welfare policy in many countries (Daly, 2004; Daly & Rake 2003; Esping-Andersen et al., 2003; Rapoport et al., 2002) particularly the necessity of the welfare state to respond to gender equality of working parents (Andersson-Skog, 2007) and child well-being (Duncan & Magnuson, 2013). Keeping up with global trends, Russian educational policy for preschoolers attempts to overcome post-Soviet omissions and make structural reforms that improve the value of preschool services.

The early childhood education network in Russia has a long history of development beginning in 1917 (1). Historically, state public organizations were the main force in providing standardized services of ECEC. A new type of a preschool organization, "nursery-kindergarten" was founded in 1959 for children aged 2 months to 7 years (Kreusler, 1970, p. 430). The state unified program of preschool education was adopted in the beginning of the 1960s; during the 1970s and 1980s, the network of preschool educational centers was enlarged significantly and was generally available for almost everyone of kindergarten age. In the post-Soviet years, a wide network of pre-schools, which were built during the last decades of the Soviet period, shrank to two-thirds. A new federal program to restore the construction and technical base of preschool education was started several years ago and 100 billion rubles (or about 3 billion USD) was allocated for the repair and construction of new buildings in 2013-2014.

At the same time, a structural reform of education took place. The new Act on Education came into force in September, 2013. It was the first time that pre-school education was positioned as the initial stage of primary education (2). This situation generated a request for the establishment of new ratings and for the evaluation of organizations that provide services to preschool education as well as a rethinking of the significance of preschool education system as a public value and a public possession. A formative type of evaluation (Weiss, 1998) will be one of the steps of the educational reform.

Currently, several projects on Russian preschool evaluation are being conducted by the Moscow Municipal Department of Education, the Institute on Psychological-Pedagogic Issues of Childhood by Russian Academy of Education, and the Institute of Education of NRU Higher School of Economics with a focus on complex multisource index construction based on experts' and professionals' views. However, these projects have not held a focus on the parents' points of view as stakeholders of the program. Moreover, the wider spectrum of social benefits that preschool gives to families and children have been ignored in the rating scales, though many researchers point out the importance of the economic, social, and cultural aspects of preschool education. It is thought that the scope of factors determining parental evaluation of preschool education is distinctly wider than the learning process itself.

To contribute to the further development of quality ECEC, I have asked parents about children's life inside the walls of kindergartens and about the different practices children participate in daily. The main goal of the study was to come to understand what parents think with respect to kindergartens as providers of preschool education and care. The question of inquiry was twofold:

1. What is important in the practices of kindergarten for parents?

2. How do they perceive the educational environment?

Literature Review

Socio-Economic Functions of Preschool Education and Care

What do we know about what the public and parents value about preschool services? What should we know to improve the quality of ECEC and create a valid evaluation of the preschool education system? …

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