Academic journal article Education Research International

Rethinking Foreign Language Education in Tunisian Preschools

Academic journal article Education Research International

Rethinking Foreign Language Education in Tunisian Preschools

Article excerpt

Academic Editor:Phillip J. Belfiore

Higher Institute for Childhood Education, University of Carthage, 26 Avenue Taïeb Mhiri, Carthage Dermech, 2016 Tunis, Tunisia

Received 14 May 2014; Revised 13 August 2014; Accepted 13 August 2014; 26 August 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

Early childhood education (ECE) has received noteworthy consideration by policy makers in Tunisia. One case in point that attests to such interest is the establishment of the Higher Institute for Childhood Education in 1989 which is primarily concerned with training future specialists in young children's education. This paper is largely inspired by my five-year teaching experience within this institution which stands as the chief tributary of ECE experts in the country, whose graduates have been occupying vocations in governmental and private institutions concerned with childhood welfare. Considering an exhaustive examination of the curricular choices and professional forums under the guardianship of this institution and the successive governmental bodies in charge of ECE, there is some reason to assert that there has been an absence of a vision which outlines a coherent policy based on clear objectives together with the unavailability of a guide that schematizes the projected ECE educator's profile. This in fact reflects the peculiarity of this educational body as a composite of feeder disciplines that have not, perhaps, reached the requisite maturity to hammer out a unifying vision exclusively premised on the assertion that the child is a project. In order to accomplish that project, educational effort should observe the key elements of its construction starting from clear objectives setting, through syllabus design and implementation, to evaluation.

Upon asking ECE students on a regular way during classes about what constitutes their vision of and/or the agenda they ought to pursue as future practitioners, it follows that inconsistency and uncertainty are the common denominator among them. At this juncture, it is unreasonable to allot full responsibility onto the ECE policy makers within the institution and elsewhere as efforts in this respect are not lacking. (The official website of The Higher Institute for Childhood Education displays a "pedagogical guide" that is based on a needs-analysis perspective. The guide comprises a list of recommendations for ECE training which have never been implemented or at least broached during curricular reforms or revisions (see The problem appears then to be communicative seeing no willingness by ECE faculty to raise students' awareness about the necessity to develop a judicious understanding of their professional raison d'être . The picture arising from this lack of vision, and, therefore, template of objectives, is marked by a dominant discourse of incoherence. It is hence no surprise discerning a collage of individualistic training practices basically informed by teacher biases. Instructional booklets are therefore partially designed in keeping with the faculty's academic fields of interest rather than in accordance with an abiding, predetermined frame of reference (i.e., a vision).

The discourse of incoherence in my understanding is rooted in the intuitive policy of recruiting ECE faculty and the lack of a concerted definition of the projected ECE educator profile. On one hand, the hiring of ECE faculty is fundamentally decided according to the needs of the department(s) and the courses suggested in the curriculum. This gap-filling method recommends the position needed to the Ministry of Higher Education which in turn appoints a recruitment jury made up of a number of academicians hardly knowledgeable about ECE as a discipline per se . …

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