Are We Ready for integrated ECEC Systems? Greek In-Service Early Childhood Educators Level of Preparation for Implementing Educare Systems.
Keywords:ECEC Dichotomy, Integration, Educare Approach, Policy reform, Early Childhood educators, Greece
Greece is one of the many countries, which still utilize a split Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) system. In fact, this dichotomy characterizes not only preschool programs, but also higher education institutions which train pre-service ECEC educators. Recently, Greek government’s Organization for ECEC organized an open debate for the adoption of a “Unified National Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care”. Although this initiative was greeted enthusiastically by the association of childcare workers, the coordinating body of kindergarten teachers and university departments reacted negatively and openly debated childcare workers’ pedagogical competence to assume the educational aspects of integrated ECEC systems. In addition, relevant announcements indicate kindergarten teachers’ effort to refuse any connection with care.
In the context of the present study a questionnaire was administered to 233 ECEC professionals representing all professional groups working in the Greek ECEC sector to explore their attitudes about the content and the effectiveness of their training in terms of implementing systems that combine education and care. Results showed that professional groups believe that they are well prepared in most aspects of ECEC theory and practice and revealed significant differences among groups. Further, weaknesses in initial education courses were revealed regarding preparation for implementing integrated ECEC practices.
Research results when interpreted in conjunction with reaction to the public debate suggest that Greece is not ready to implement an integrated ECEC system due to various impediments (political, corporate, discursive etc.) and to the unawareness of what integrated ECEC is.
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