As part of this assignment I will write about the historical developments of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector in Ireland, History of ECCE provision in Ireland
Pre-school education did not really exist in Ireland apart from a few exceptions until the 1980s and 1990s. This was largely due to the fact that until quite recently the majority of Irish women did not work outside the home. Even if they did the childcare was usually provided by family members or childminders located in the community known to the family. Irish policy discouraged women from working outside the home. The ‘marriage bar’ meant that women working in the public service had to leave their jobs as soon as they go married and become stay at home mothers and wives. This ban was lifted in 1957 for primary school teachers, but it was 1973 before the ban was lifted for other women in the public service. Until resent years in Ireland, very few mothers worked outside the home. Therefore , there was little focus on pre-school education in Ireland until the late 1980s and 1990s Most of the progress in the area of pre-school education in Ireland has come from the privet rather than public sector.
Outside the state –funded primary school system, investment in pre-school provision was traditionally targeted to support children in need of specific interventions, including educational disadvantage and children with special needs. The ECEC needs of babies, young children and their families were met instead by a broad range of community, voluntary and private enterprise. ECCE service provision was unregulated until 1997. When the Child Care (Pre-School) Regulations 2006 came into effect, no stipulation was made regarding qualifications necessary to deliver such service, especially those provided by community and voluntary sector relied heavily on volunteer staff. Even in the private sector, salaries were low and conditions of employment poor. Opportunities for employment in state-funded services were very limited excluding primary teachers in infant classes and similarly characterised by low status and low wage. Working in childcare was not generally viewed as a desirable choice. One important initiative came from the public sector in 1969, with the opening of a state –run pre-school in Ruthland Street Dublin. The Department of Education worked with Van Leer Foundation – an organisation that promotes the early education of children living in economically disadvantaged areas. Together they set up the pre-school in Ruthland Street as a template for other such pre-schools around the country. These pre-schools were known as Early Start pre-schools. A total of 40 pre-schools opened nationally – all of which are still open today. The aim of these pre-schools is to combat the effects of economic and social disadvantage on educational achievement. This is archived by giving children a good start to their education. In 1992 Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This helped to bring public consciousness the rights of children. And in 2000, the Department of Health and Children published the National Children’s Strategy. This set out ten-years plan for improvement of children’s lives in Ireland . The strategy document stated that its vision was for:
An Ireland where children are respected young citizens with valued contribution to make and a voice of their own , where all children are cherished and supported by family and the wider society; where they enjoy a fulfilling childhood and realise their potential. (DoHC 2000 10 ) One of the goals of the National Children’s Strategy is that children will receive quality supports and services to promote all aspects of their development (DoHC 2000:30) The strategy aims to fulfil this by providing quality childcare services and family – friendly employment measures. National Forum on Early Childhood Education (1998)
The National Forum on Early...
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