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Massey Varsity To Help Malaysia Produce High-quality Graduates In Early Childhood Education

Last update: 25/04/2011
By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

SINGAPORE, April 25 (Bernama) -- Massey University has offered to assist Malaysia in producing higher quality graduates in early childhood education.

Its International Manager, Brendan Mitchell, said, "our Massey University College of Education has the capacity, capability and leading expertise in this area to contribute to the quality of graduates in early childhood education in Malaysia."

"As can be seen by the qualification requirements for early childhood education teachers and a number of universities offering bachelor degrees and master degrees in early childhood education, the Malaysian government recognises the importance of upgrading its teachers," he told Bernama.


Mitchell said the Malaysian government had placed, and continues to place, significant resources in early childhood education as it recognises children as the country's most valuable asset.

"We believe this will be a significant reason for Malaysia reaching its goal of developed status by 2020, if not before," he said.


According to Mitchell, the Early Childhood Education System in Malaysia has developed and opened opportunities for children across Malaysia since 1969, when the Asia Foundation provided a grant to the 'Worker's Society of Malaysia' to open three children centre models similar to "The Head Start Project" at Selangor.

He said this preschool targeted children from poor families.

In recent years, under the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the PERMATA Early Childhood Education programme, an idea proposed by the Prime Minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was continuing development work in Malaysia and improving the quality of life of Malaysians in general, and rural Malaysians in particular.

Mitchell cited a report in the Star on May 12, 2010 that said "929 of the targeted 1,353 pre-schools run by the Ministry, various government agencies and the private sector had begun using the national pre-school curriculum standard since January 2010."

He noted that targeted training programmes would be offered to both teachers and teachers' assistants to improve the skills of approximately 30,000 existing and new staff over the next three years.

Further, the minimum qualification for new pre-school teachers and assistants would be upgraded to graduate and SPM levels, respectively, he added.

Incentives of RM10,000 were also offered to private sector participants to set up pre-school facilities, especially in rural areas, he said.


According to Early Childhood Academic Leader, Associate Professor Claire McLachlan, there was an increasingly robust platform of evidence that early childhood education has significant long-term outcomes for children and their families. It also has long-term economic outcomes for countries that support it.

She said there was evidence from international studies that children who have early childhood experiences that are learner or child centred and based upon a competence model of curriculum have better long-term outcomes in terms of school achievement, behaviour, social competence, employment, avoidance of teenage delinquency and pregnancy.

"Much of our current understandings of the outcomes of quality early childhood curriculum is based on the outcomes of longitudinal studies of children in early childhood settings," she said.

McLachlan said most of these studies demonstrate clear links between the quality of an early childhood programme and children's later educational achievements.

She added that they also demonstrate long-term social outcomes, as well as short-term cognitive gains.


She added that further research was needed on the effectiveness of one model of curriculum design over another.

McLachlan said this was because there have been few studies that used random assignments to groups, and non-experimental studies have often confounded curriculum differences with other programme characteristics or the characteristics of the children attending the programme.

However, she said, they argue that there were some studies that show that direct instruction models produce larger gains on achievement in subject content knowledge over the first few years, but these gains do not persist over time.

There is also some evidence that curriculum effects differ according to child characteristics, specifically gender and ability at programme entry, but this was not found in all studies, she said.

Finally, McLachlan said curricula produce differences in social and emotional outcomes, which may be more persistent than the cognitive outcomes.

In particular, direct instruction models have been found to produce worse social and emotional outcomes for children than learner-centred models of curriculum, with implications for behavioural difficulties.

Although there is little formal evaluation of the outcomes of New Zealand's early childhood education, there is some evidence from studies in New Zealand that children who have attended early childhood centres are more likely to make successful transitions to school and to succeed academically at school, as well as develop social competence, she said.

She pointed out that many governments internationally target funding for children of the poor, in particular (for instance the American Head Start and British Sure Start programmes) on the basis of economic analysis, as an investment in the country's future.

"There is strong evidence that the outcomes of early childhood education are personal, social and economic," added McLachlan.


Massey University has grown from a small agricultural college in Palmerston North to become New Zealand's largest residential university spread over three cities. It now has three campuses on North Island and the highest number of extramural students.

The Massey University College of Education was established in 1996 after the merger of the existing Faculty of Education and Palmerston North College of Education.

Today, the college offers programmes and qualifications in Education and Professional Education from certificate to doctoral levels.

The mission of the College of Education is to provide quality education designed to promote excellence in teaching and associated professional activities.

The college offers a full complement of innovative, research-based qualifications and professional development programmes that enhance the skills and knowledge of an up-to-date educator.

The comprehensive range of programmes offered and the extensive research and professional development activities of staff distinguish the College of Education at Massey University from other education colleges in New Zealand.

Massey University offers a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Years (Birth to Eight) degree.

It further offers a professional teaching qualification designed to prepare teachers across the age range from birth to eight years, including studies and work experience in both the early childhood sector and the first three years of primary schooling.

Graduates from the programme are qualified to teach in both early childhood and the junior school.

"From birth to eight years of age is recognised as a critical time for young people. These are the years when children acquire the learning and social skills to develop abilities that will set them up for life," said McLachlan.