The journey towards employment for Chinese early childhood student teachers: a case study

Heald, Denise J
Clark, Beverley
Smith, Richard
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Master of Education
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Auckland University of Technology

The topic of this thesis stems from my interest in finding out whether a partial early childhood Certificate qualification could procure employment in early childhood centres for Chinese student teachers, which could then eventuate in Permanent Residency status. Employment in early childhood centres is currently being driven by the need to comply with Ministry of Education requirements which state that centres need to have fifty per cent of their teachers fully qualified and registered by 2007. The literature surrounding the employment experiences of Asian immigrants to New Zealand reveals negative outcomes, and discrimination is cited as one of the causes of this. However, early childhood education in New Zealand espouses a strong philosophy of cultural diversity and inclusive practice.The employment experiences of seven Chinese early childhood student teachers are documented in this thesis using a qualitative mixed-method approach involving Case Study as the overarching methodology/method, supplemented with Narrative Inquiry and Documentary Analyses to collect and analyse the data.The main findings of my research were: there are obstacles that this ethnic group faced in gaining employment relevant to their qualification - this was a negative, but not unexpected outcome. The second major finding was that, despite the over-arching philosophy of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, I found that there were several areas where the participants of this study were vulnerable to 'discrimination'. This was predominantly in the form of unfair practices and included: interview experiences; relief teaching; employment contracts; and payment issues. The participants of this study were also vulnerable in other ways. In order to enrol in further study to become fully qualified, they need to achieve a high IELTS (International English Language Testing System) level.A third and much more positive outcome was that participants who found employment did so through practicum placements, networks of friends, and with those centres that were accepting of 'cultural difference'. All of these findings were to some extent largely congruent with the literature on immigration experiences of 'migrants'.Further research needs to be undertaken on this topic by myself, and others in this field, in particular, how International Students are 'protected' in Aotearoa/New Zealand. I found that there was a 'loophole' in the Immigration Points Table and that International Students are possibly being encouraged to enrol in Early Childhood Certificate programmes in the belief that they will find employment and eventually Permanent Residency status. This research shows that this is not always the case.In addition to this, further research needs to focus on the views of centre owners and staff, with regard to employing Chinese early childhood educators; the views of Chinese parents with regard to their perspective of Chinese teachers and lastly, in the area of relief teaching. In the conclusion several recommendations for changes to policy and practice at the tertiary level are raised.

Early childhood teachers , Asian teachers , Immigration , Culturally competent care , Discrimination , Immigrants
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