Discourses of quality ECCE in Malaysia: A critical analysis
Ting, Mee Ling
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The Malaysian government has put much attention into increasing quality control in preschool education. This attention is based on an increased recognition that a quality early start to education has long-term cognitive and social benefits for children, and contributes to the country’s economic progress (ECCE Council, 2011). According to Kumar and Sarangapani (2004), for virtually all developing countries in Asia, there is still an emphasis on education as an ordering instrument – a remnant of British and European colonisation. When it comes to putting quality early childhood education to practice, there is a strong normalising tendency and an implication in processes of regulation and control (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 2013) in many countries around the world. Based on these views, the discourse of quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) in Malaysia may have this same tendency, which may limit the discussion on what constitutes a good ECCE within Malaysian context. This research uses Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to examine the discourses of quality ECCE within Malaysian context, and the driving force behind the increased attention, which the Malaysian government has paid to quality control in ECCE services in Malaysia since 1990s. The analysis studies the Malaysian context on Macro and Micro level, looking at its socio-political, economic development, as well as written documents relevant to quality ECCE in Malaysia, aiming at understanding how the language of ‘quality’ in ECCE Malaysia is constructed, and then explore possibilities of alternative understandings and approaches to “quality ECCE” within the Malaysian context. The purpose of this research is to draw out an alternate narrative of quality, and to allow other ways of understanding the ECCE profession. I believe when new dialogues that surround quality ECCE begins to prioritise children’s learning experiences, well-being and meaning-making, instead of being used as an economic and political tool, then the long-term goals of genuine social coherence and equality can finally take a step forward to becoming a reality in Malaysia.