2016 年 25 巻 1-2 号 p. 57-70
Early Childhood Education (ECE) has lately been recognized as important in both developed and developing nations, and references to ECE are found not only in education policies but also in national development plans. Behind this change lies global governance of ECE. Should we welcome such world trend uncritically or be skeptical and pose questions? Moreover, how has it affected ECE policies and practices in developing countries? This paper aims at delineating the trajectory of global governance of ECE, identifying conflicts between the global governance and unique characteristics of ECE, and finally discussing how policy makers in developing countries should plan and implement ECE policies under the circumstances.
The key findings of this paper are as follows. First, depicting the development of global governance of ECE has revealed that ECE underwent a period of major changes in recent years, and that there has been an increasing interest in setting standards and indicators of young children's learning and development. Second, four main conflicts are detected, given discrepancies between the unique features of ECE and the ideas and concepts embedded in the global governance of ECE. They are: 1) a biased perspective that captures ECE solely for preparing children ready for school; 2) a question whether quality assurance of ECE is made possible by standardization of what a child should know and be able to do at a certain age along with the wide use of indicators to monitor their progress; 3) a strong concern that it could lead to neglect or elimination of children's abilities and attitudes that are difficult to measure and/or not in line with global standards; and 4) a worry that the focus on ECE policies and results has kept the learning process of young children in developing countries as a black box. Finally, for ECE policy makers in developing countries, it is of overarching importance to act on its own initiative in consideration of their cultural uniqueness of ECE in each country; to always maintain viewpoints such as the realization of equity and respect for diversity; and to return to the norms guided by international laws whenever necessary, such as the best interests of the child and ECE as fulfilling the child's right to development.