An Analysis of Graduate Theses on Early Childhood Education: The Case of Turkey

By Öztürk, Yasemin Abalı; Demir, Mehmet Kaan | International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, June 2018 | Go to article overview

An Analysis of Graduate Theses on Early Childhood Education: The Case of Turkey


Öztürk, Yasemin Abalı, Demir, Mehmet Kaan, International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education


Introduction

Early childhood constitutes the most critical part of life in terms of adopting values that children will need socially. Because children in this period go through the fastest stage of their development, where their personality is built and they are strongly affected by their immediate environments and open to any kind of learning (Günindi, 2015). Early childhood education as the first stage of formal education is the first floor of a building, which should be constructed on a firm basis to achieve an egalitarian and high-quality education (AÇEV-ERG, 2013, p. 5). Many projects have been produced and carried out and plans, goals, policies, and principles have been created to improve the national education system in Turkey so far; however, the desired results have not been achieved. In consideration of the decisions of the National Education Councils and educational goals and policies in the five-year development plans having been implemented since 1963, it can be realized that what is said and what is done fail to overlap (Eğitim-Bir-Sen, 2010, p. 11).

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are the two organizations striving for the global dissemination of early childhood education. It can be observed in the case of Turkey that early childhood education institutions are administered by various offices and authorities. Early Childhood Education (EÇE) in Turkey is orchestrated by the three general directorates of the Ministry of National Education. Privately owned pre-kindergartens (3-6) and kindergartens (5-6) report to the Directorate of Early Childhood Education, application pre-kindergartens and kindergartens (3-6 Year-Olds and Project of Mother-Father-Child Education) to the Directorate of Girls' Technical Education, the Program of Mother-Child Education (AÇEP) and the Program of Mother-Child Education for 0-4 year-olds to the Directorate of Apprenticeship and Non-formal Education. Children's homes (0-12), nurseries, and day cares (0-6) operate as regulated by the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (Eğitim-Bir-Sen, 2010, p. 19).

A high-quality and compulsory early childhood education is regarded as a prerequisite to a sustainable national development and a sustainable competitive capacity in the international setting. Contemporary administrators and decision-makers should act to make educational investments to secure the future of Turkey and to solve education-related problems in a systematic way starting with early childhood education and elementary school. This is not an option but a necessity (Özdemir, Bacanlı & Sözer, 2007). Implementations by educational policies concerning this necessity are only possible when and if the decisions and prospective plans are based on scientific research studies. Research on early childhood education plays a crucial role in the description of the existing condition and in the future plans. Over the last years, the number of academic studies has increased in Turkey, the benefits of early childhood education have come to be discussed by policy makers and the goals have been set to improve early childhood education (Kaytaz, 2005). Among these research studies are graduate theses written at the institutes of universities as per the Law on Higher Education (Law no: 2547) effective as of 1981.

In the Turkish education system, different approaches and theories have been adopted at different periods to produce teaching programs, and these approaches and theories have been taken into account when setting educational goals (Arı, Kızılaslan Tuncer & Demir, 2016). Turkey is a country ardently working to make early childhood education compulsory. Turkey has come to understand the value of early childhood education, which was realized by other countries many years ago. The rising importance of this field has entailed an indepth analysis of relevant studies. Not many studies were identified in the literature examining master's theses and doctoral dissertations on early childhood education. …

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