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Children's Right to Education and Access to Primary Education

Discuss about the Report on Early Childhood Studies?

In this paper, it has been proposed that all the countries should uphold Article 28 of the United Nations Conventions as it suggests that the governments of all the countries need to provide the children with free and compulsory primary education (Lundy, McEvoy and Byrne 2011). Education is a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalized children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens and provision of free primary education by the government can make this hypothesis a reality. Free primary education is a fundamental concept for assuring that every child has the access to education. In most of the developing countries, the families of the child cannot afford the schooling of their child and millions of children remains deprived of primary education (Lyle 2014). The indirect costs of education like travel, uniform and schoolbooks cause many to leave education. Therefore, provision of free primary education can help these children to get back to school and make them better citizens.

Education is regarded as a key cultural and social right of the children. It plays a crucial role in reducing child labor and poverty and promotes peace, democracy, economic growth, development and tolerance (Yousafzai 2013). Article 28 of UNCRC states that the state parties should recognize the right to education for children and appropriate measures should be taken for ensuring the school discipline is a consistent manner with the human dignity of the child (Unicef.org.uk, 2016).

Quality education ensures that the enrolment of children takes place and they stay in school for a longer duration. Adequate student-teacher ratio has to be maintained and the teachers should be adequately trained for laying down the effective strategies for retaining the students. The school should be made a welcoming and safe place for learning and the curriculum should be made relevant for the students (Ruiz et al. 2010). Quality primary education helps the children to escape from poverty and the adults tend to send their children to school. Therefore, it reduces child labor and promotes the quality of life of the children (Matheson 2014).

Primary education promotes a culture of peace and non-violence as it aids to develop the personality of the child, his talents, physical and mental abilities to the maximum potential. Conveying the values of education will foster the individual development of the child that includes dignity, self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence (Archard 2010). Therefore, these factors will collectively contribute towards the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence in the community.

Importance of Quality Primary Education

Primary education promotes the formation of a democratic society as it prepares the young citizens for the responsibilities and roles that they have to take on at the attainment of maturity. It cultivates the virtues, skills and knowledge that are required for the participation in politics and there the role of education comes to play. Conscious social reproduction is the core of democratic politics and is facilitated at a younger age by quality education (Amundsen and Wilson 2012).

Quality of education has an impact on the economic growth, distribution of income and individual earnings. An educated society translates into the process of economic growth in the developing economies and this provides the government to alleviate poverty. Quality education sharpens the cognitive skills and therefore develops a quality labor force (Penn 2014). This, in turn, has a robust and strong influence on the economic growth.

I conducted an interview with an elderly person, who is 70 years old with nickname Alice. She puts up in my locality who responded actively to the questions of the interview. I have followed all the ethical aspects while conducting the interview. She was born of a Christian family in the year 1946 in the United Kingdom and has spent her entire childhood in the city of London. Therefore, her childhood had been shaped based on the reflection of the community and cultures of England during her growing up years as a child. The transcript of the interview has been documented below.

How was the lifestyle of the community of the era of your childhood in London?

I believe everyone who grew up in the decade of the 50s in London has the indelible memories of their childhood as the country was recovering from the ravages of World War II and wartime camaraderie was very much evident in the city. I had the privilege of to taste the welfare orange juice as well as to play with the rock n roll doll. In that era, people had loyalty and great pride towards their country in their daily life despite the difficulties and families used to stay together by sharing a sense of belonging to their neighbors. I used to leave the keys hanging behind the letterbox for the family members to go and come as they please and there was no fear of security breach. My childhood was much safer as it is for the present generation. I shared a strong bond not only with my family but also with my neighbors with no nuclear families. It was a post-war period and I took great pride in singing the national anthem of my country to demonstrate my patriotism, which is still a continuing matter of pride and honor.  

Promoting Peace and Non-Violence through Primary Education

How do you relate your childhood to the cultural aspects of your days of childhood?

I used to wake up early on the mornings of Christmas and experienced the rationing of clothes and food. However, fizzy drinks, crisps, biscuits and sweets were not common during those days and it was normal for me to go without them. The most prized gift in the Christmas stockings was a two-ounce and small chocolate bar. I used to be happy with a bottle of milk and that small bar of chocolate used to be an immense source of joy. I was entrusted with the responsibility of decorating the Christmas tree and I used to help my mother with her household chores. I did not have the privilege of watching televisions and it never mattered as I used to play on the streets with my friends without the obstruction from parked cars and fear of traffic. British bulldog, hopscotch and run-outs used to be the common street games. Bicycles and buses were the common modes of transport and our outdoor life had safer environments. I fell out of trees and get dirty by playing rough and tumble games. The little pocket money that I used to receive was spent on sweets and comics. We did not have a refrigerator and therefore I used to have freshly cooked food from daily groceries. It was a cozy childhood that I had with a childish innocence for a carefree life filled with games and fun, without any excessive educational pressure.

Did our childhood experience have an influence on how you reared your children?

Life has drastically changed since my days of childhood and the parenting strategies have undergone huge transformations. I have passed over the good virtues of my childhood to my children and given them the liberty to choose their lifestyle as that is the prevailing trend in London. It is no more the same as our parents and guardians guided us.

Analysis of the patch

Arguably, it can be said that the childhood of the present generation differs a lot from the childhood of the previous generation. From the interview, it can be seen that several changes have taken place in a generation that affects the behavior of the young people of the present generation (Bellis et al. 2014). Changes have been prominent in the community and cultural aspects as how people used to spend their daily lives with the reminisce of a World War in London and their hardships of life have been clearly depicted by Alice. She expressed how happy she used to be with the little she had and she never used to complain about the scarcity. It was a common practice of Alice to leave the keys behind the letterboxes in almost every household and it reflects the mutual trust that people had. Alice mentioned it as a post-war era and therefore, patriotism was in an increased magnitude that shaped her childhood to be loyal to her country. The economy was weak after the post-war period and she used to have a meager pocket money, which was spent mostly on comics and sweets (Howe et al. 2012). This states that her wishes and requirements were simple and cheap and she realized the importance of poverty and managed with a small amount of pocket money. Alice did not have the privilege of watching television and she never repented it. She used to play on the streets with her friends without any pressure and never bothered about the safety of the environment. She used to help her mother with her household chores that trained her in the job for future requirements. She was fond of comics and it was good for developing the reading habits and improved vocabulary. Alice was given the responsibility for decorating the Christmas tree and she used to be happy to take up the responsibility was it was perceived from the interview. This habit had helped her to understand the sense of responsibility that later shaped her life as a matured human being. Alice used to enjoy the freedom of outdoor life as the scare of vandalism and mugging was absent. She had her own perception of games and fun that did not robe in the intrusion of technology (Young and Wilmott 2013). Childhood was healthy as she used to eat wholesome and freshly made food, as her household did not have a refrigerator. Junk and canned food were absent from the eating culture. Relationships were extended with mutual respect, love and trust without the existence of nuclear families. Today's children might assess that life was gloom and doom without all the modern amenities in that era, but the older generation believes that it is a misconception. Therefore, it can be said that today’s London has changed a lot in terms of childhood experiences over the time and the carefree childhood with selfless friendships is long gone. The happy go lucky days of childhood of Alice are no longer identifiable.

Formation of a Democratic Society through Primary Education

In the poem "No way. The hundred is there" contextual discussion of the ideas has been done on the basis of an element of metaphor. The poem is said to be engulfed with the elements of exuberance, truth, sadness and joy (Lipman 2013). The child has been identified as a dynamic part of a cultural world in the poem. The opening lines state that the child is made of one hundred where he has many ways to express his thoughts. His thoughts have an enormous velocity that runs in every direction. The child uses his hand and language to express his thoughts and since he has hundreds of them, so his medium of expression is also in hundreds, like his hands and languages. This flow of thoughts opens in many directions for him to play and speak and there are infinite emotions that he can express that add to his dynamic creativity. The child can love, marvel and listen infinitely to discover his beautiful world and enjoy his inventions. His understanding and songs are never of the finite world and his imaginations can create an infinite number of songs, which is possible only by a child who has no restrictions or fear in his thinking. He can invent and discover hundred of worlds of his own where there will be no one to control him and he exhibit his wishes and happiness without or with hundred of languages (Malguzzi and Gandini 2010). A child can find hundreds of ways of conducting the daily activities like speaking, thinking, loving and understanding. The reader was able to analyze that children exhibit hundreds of ways for exploring and creating their own world. They do not need any particular language or medium to express their joy. They do not need a precomposed music to sing. They have their own songs and they have hundreds of them (Sutherland 2013). In their dreams, they can roam about in different worlds without any fear or restriction and can discover hundreds of new adventures for fulfilling their desires.

The poem states clearly that without the intervention from the discovered world that already exists, the child is a natural discoverer and he can discover hundreds of other worlds where he can do whatever he wish, with the interference from anyone. The poem has demonstrated that the children see a world of possibilities. A world where using creativity and imagination is a natural part of his daily life, development and learning. Students have hundreds of ways of speaking or thinking, listening, discovering, understanding, listening, dreaming and inventing (Plath 2015). Yet the experiences of schooling have restricted their options, quashed their individuality and curtailed their ideas. Nurturing creativity and imagination by not taking away ninety-nine out of the children’s hundred possibilities will help the schools to achieve the goals of equity, inclusion and excellence that form the foundation of education. Therefore, it should be ensured that our young people would always be able to say, “No way. The hundred is there.

Economic Growth and the Significance of Education

The Vygotskian theory deeply influenced the practice in Reggio that underscored the social dimensional significance of the construction of knowledge. Vygotsky described this theory as a generic law of relations among the human beings with the underlying functions and relationships (Moll 2013). The imaginary conversation between Vygotsky and Malaguzzi has been summarized below.

Malaguzzi: Hello Sir, I am immensely motivated by your work on the welfare of children and the relevant and supporting articles. Now I get this opportunity to meet you, I would like to clarify few questions that have been floundering in my mind since long.

Vygotsky: Thank you Malaguzzi for that compliment and yes, I will definitely answer all your questions and I am honored that my works have influenced you.

Malaguzzi: I want to ask you that why you put more emphasis on culture and shaping the cognitive development in children for their betterment?

Vygotsky: Well Malaguzzi, it is a good question. Well, all I can say is that I was more focused on the fundamental role of social interaction for developing cognition and psychological function in the children. Therefore, I developed a socio-cultural approach to the cognitive development of the children.  However, what are your thoughts on this?

Malaguzzi: I absolutely respect your work but I have a different opinion. I strongly believe that children should be allowed to express more as it helps them to perform better. According to my viewpoint, the ideologies of assisting and scaffolding the children have been interpreted wrongly by many school workers and teachers recently. They are thrusting the students with harder lessons and making them go through difficult educational system for securing good grades in examination. By this process, the children are scoring well but do you really think good grades can truly justify the actual potential and intelligence of a child?

Vygotsky: Malaguzzi, I am extremely disappointed to hear this. I only wished that the teachers implement the ideologies of assisting and scaffolding without thrusting any additional force or burden on the child. I would agree to the fact that children have the ability to learn a lot from the nature and environment and I truly appreciate your work on the promotion of children welfare. I like your ideology of considering the environment as the third teacher as it has immense contribution in the process of learning.

Malaguzzi: Thank you, sir, for the appreciation and to add to that, I emphasized more on the technical aspects for increasing the potential of learning of the children. However, your conception and work have always been a guiding star for developing my ideas and I am grateful to you.

Interview with an Elder About Childhood in 1950s London

Vygotsky: Malaguzzi, I would like to state that your ideas of improvement of the learning abilities of children by improvement of the experiences through the fundamental aspects of hearing, seeing, listening, moving and touching have been commendable.

Lev Vygotsky’s viewpoint –

  • Demonstrating and making the children aware of the surroundings.
  • Using social skills like play, singing, etc. to impose learning capabilities within a child (Labadie, Pole and Rogers 2013).

Loris Malaguzzi’s viewpoint –

  • Helping the children to learn through experiences like touching, moving, seeing, listening and hearing.
  • Providing them a platform where they can express themselves fully.
  • Allowing the student to explore (Smidt 2013).

A mini interview was conducted with a student of fifth grade of a neighboring school who spoke about friendship and his friends. Permission and assent were obtained from the parents of the children regarding this interview and full consideration was given to the ethical implications of discussing friendship with a young child. Details of the interview have been provided below.

Who do you think is a friend?

A friend is one with whom I can talk, play, eat and share my toys and do feel like I am away from my home when I am with my friends. I have many good friends with whom I study, play and even share our food. During the activity classes, we share the play items and do not fight if my friend gets the good ones. I also take the help of my friends for completing my homework.

Do you have any special friend out of your group of friends?

Yes. I do have one special that I call my best friend. He is very caring for me and we are always together in the school and I often visit his home to play with him.

What are your common activities with your best friend?

In the school, we learn and play together. Out of school, we visit each other’s house and play games. He shares his toys with me and goes together for outdoor playing activities. In the parks and playgrounds, we carry out the fun activities together and we even are punished together for our mischievous activities. He even does my homework when I am not able to do them.

Do you miss your best friend when he is not around?

Yes, I miss him a lot. When we are on a vacation, we do not see each other and I feel boring. I miss all the fun that I do with him every day and even do like to do my homework. I play with my other friends on the playground but they are not my best friend.

Analysis of the patch

Based on this systematic interview, it can be said that a child views his friends as the source of immense joy with the bondage of togetherness. Most of his friends are from the nearby locality and even from the same school. For a fifth grader, friendship goes beyond the thinking of their present activities and they start thinking in pragmatic terms (Margalit 2012). Out of their many friends, they develop a special relationship with a single friend whom they refer to as the best friend. Their selection of best friends usually depends on the nice activities that they do for them like sharing of toys or doing the homework. They often do not consider their part of contribution towards this relationship of good friendship. This is the age where the children develop the real concept of friendship and they care a lot for their best friend and consider them as an inseparable part. They can even put up with other friends who are not up to the mark of their friendship for the sake of their friendship. Children regard friendship as a stronger form of interpersonal bond rather than a casual association, without any intention of self-interest. Friendship has been considered to be vital for the school going children for their healthy development. Children who lack in forming friends usually suffer mental and emotional difficulties in the later stages of life. More than just playmates, friends act as the supporting backbone for the moral and emotional development of the children. Often by their relationships with their friends, children learn the social skills of problem solving, co-operation and communication. It also helps them to improve their performance in school and tend to exhibit better attitude towards learning and school in an environment of good and supporting friends. Establishment of friendship is an essential developmental goal in the early childhood as it greatly benefits the child (Calder and Pellicano 2013). Development of the relationship of a best friend often contributes towards the concept of learning, practicing and developing the skills of cognitive, social, emotional and communicative development. It also creates a sense of security and belonging and reduces stress levels. In the period of early childhood, a successful relationship of friendship can significantly contribute towards the quality of life of the child and can help him to develop the skills of life adjustments for future (Keenan, Evans and Crowley 2016). From the interview of the child, it was obvious that he feels better and his sense of belonging increases when he is with best friend and he feels unhappy and lonely when he is not around. Although there are other friends, with whom he is associated but kids tend to develop a special relationship with a special friend at this age with whom he feels confident and happier. This sense of relationship at such a young age will help him to sustain his relationships in future.

From this module, I have learned and understood that education forms the force of the future. Children are the future citizens of any country and they are the bearers of the culture of humankind. Therefore, education provides them with the essential means for confronting the challenges of the future. It helps to shape the future of the children and with the aid of education, children dwelling in poverty can come out of their miseries. I have realized the fact that children have the immense power of imagination and they can have hundreds of ways of doing things. Education provides them with the empowerment and force to rise above the existing cultures and make the world a better place to live (Cagliari et al. 2016). I think that products of the mind determine the progress of a nation and education can make the product more and more enriched. United Nations have taken up the initiatives for exploring the imagination of the children and link them with education and I can say that this is really a major step towards the better future of the children and they have an important role to play in it.

From the module, I have realized that Education is mainly dependant on the factors of research, adaptation, invention and innovation and it has been repeatedly highlighted in the module that children possess the dynamism and tremendous versatility that is required to meet these requirements. Educated minds and instincts are required in each step of life and it should not be confined to the laboratories (Merewether 2015). I believe that if the children are provided with proper education, they can imagine and create new relationships that will foster higher respect according to the environmental needs.

From the module, I have learned that early childhood is the crucial stage of a human life in terms of physical, social, intellectual and emotional development. It is at this stage that extensive development of the mental and physical abilities takes place and children should be provided with quality education and care.

The module taught me the cultural influences on the children from a different era and I really enjoyed my experience of interviewing and observing the children and their interest towards creativity. Developmental milestones and parenting styles have influenced the society and culture in which the child grows up. Environment shapes the experience that is crucial for the development and education set the mind for accepting the future challenges. I have discovered the inter-relationship between child development and culture and their manifestation that strengthens with the passing time.

I conclude this paper by stating that from this module, I realized that promotion of education is a crucial factor and has to be encouraged at every level of the community. It will provide a strong a base for knowledge improvement and will help him to understand and interpret the situations in an appropriate and significant manner (Spodek and Saracho 2014). Education is recognized as a potential instrument for the mental and moral development of a child and after critically evaluating the learning, I can say that with the proper implementation of the educational methods, the child will be well equipped to adjust to the changing environment and face the future challenges. 

References

Amundsen, C. and Wilson, M., 2012. Are we asking the right questions? A conceptual review of the educational development literature in higher education. Review of educational research, 82(1), pp.90-126.

Archard, D., 2010. Children's rights. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics.

Bellis, M.A., Lowey, H., Leckenby, N., Hughes, K. and Harrison, D., 2014. Adverse childhood experiences: retrospective study to determine their impact on adult health behaviours and health outcomes in a UK population. Journal of public health, 36(1), pp.81-91.

Cagliari, P., Castagnetti, M., Giudici, C., Rinaldi, C., Vecchi, V. and Moss, P. eds., 2016. Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia: A selection of his writings and speeches, 1945-1993. Routledge.

Calder, L., Hill, V. and Pellicano, E., 2013. ‘Sometimes I want to play by myself’: Understanding what friendship means to children with autism in mainstream primary schools. Autism, 17(3), pp.296-316.

Howe, L.D., Tilling, K., Galobardes, B., Smith, G.D., Gunnell, D. and Lawlor, D.A., 2012. Socioeconomic differences in childhood growth trajectories: at what age do height inequalities emerge?. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(2), pp.143-148.

Keenan, T., Evans, S. and Crowley, K., 2016. An introduction to child development. Sage.

Lipman, P., 2013. The new political economy of urban education: Neoliberalism, race, and the right to the city. Taylor & Francis.

Lundy, L., McEvoy, L. and Byrne, B., 2011. Working with young children as co-researchers: An approach informed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Early Education & Development, 22(5), pp.714-736.

Lyle, S., 2014. Embracing the UNCRC in Wales (UK): policy, pedagogy and prejudices. Educational Studies, 40(2), pp.215-232.

Malguzzi, L. and Gandini, L., 2010. No way. The hundred is there. Australian Art Education, 33(2), p.10.

Margalit, M., 2012. Loneliness among children with special needs: Theory, research, coping, and intervention. Springer Science & Business Media.

Matheson, D., 2014. An Introduction to the study of education. Routledge.

Merewether, J., 2015. Young children's perspectives of outdoor learning spaces: What matters?

Moll, L.C., 2013. LS Vygotsky and education. Routledge.

Penn, H., 2014. Understanding early childhood. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Plath, S., 2015. Collected poems. Faber & Faber.

Ruiz-Casares, M., Rousseau, C., Derluyn, I., Watters, C. and Crépeau, F., 2010. Right and access to healthcare for undocumented children: Addressing the gap between international conventions and disparate implementations in North America and Europe. Social Science & Medicine, 70(2), pp.329-336

Smidt, S., 2013. Introducing Malaguzzi: Exploring the Life and Work of Reggio Emilia's Founding Father. Routledge.

Spodek, B. and Saracho, O.N., 2014. Handbook of research on the education of young children. Routledge.

Sutherland, E.E., 2013. Listening to the Voice of the Child: The Evolution of Participation Rights. New Zealand Law Review, 2013(3), pp.335-355.

Unicef.org.uk. (2016). Right to education | Rights Respecting Schools Award | Unicef UK. [online] Available at: https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/about-the-award/child-rights-in-schools/right-to-education/ [Accessed 4 May 2016].

Young, M. and Wilmott, P., 2013. Family and kinship in East London. Routledge.

Yousafzai, M., 2013. I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. Little, Brown.

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