Almost four months since lockdown was formally announced in Ireland, grants have now been announced but is it enough?
It seems that everyone has somehow forgotten the temporary respect and value they placed on all education professionals a couple of months before.
Teaching has always been an underappreciated profession at any level for many reasons.
In our society we pay bankers millions with huge bonus schemes to look after our money, whilst we pay our early years providers minimum wage to care for our children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate what is really important, our health and our loved ones. However, there are more pragmatic reasons that teachers and educators have enjoyed a well-deserved dose of respect:
* As our schedules and plans were wholly disrupted, parents were forced to halt their jobs and lives to focus on homeschooling and supporting their children. The simple fact of the matter is that they realised how much skill, time and energy is required to nurture a child. This translated to a reappointing of value to those people who usually fulfil this job for them.
* It took until the COVID-19 pandemic to recognise the worth of teachers because when the world had to ask more of them they pulled through, just going to show the nature of the profession.
Teachers are never out to get rich. Teachers are there to help the development of each child in our charge even during the toughest of times. Educators showed dedication, resolve and flexibility as they rapidly adapted to teaching remotely. The welfare of each child was of priority but it’s been clear that teachers have been on hand to provide professional support wherever possible to ensure that nobody fell behind.
* The world was forced to realise that teachers are vital to the rest of the world continuing to turn. Many teachers stayed in schools to ensure that vulnerable children were cared for or that other key workers could continue in their roles.
These factors were pushed onto the global stage, resulting in world-wide celebration of early childhood teachers, childminders and more. But was it enough?
Was The Respect Temporary?
Now that practical processes are being put in place to return to the classroom and it’s come the time for officials to back up their supportive claims for key workers and teachers with finances, it seems that the early years are being overlooked.
Research from different countries estimate that the current climate means that approximately 1 in 4 pre-schools are expected to go out of business within a year if they do not receive targeted support.
This goes to highlight that respect and value for the education sectors may have been rejuvenated throughout this period, but there is still a hierarchical structure when it comes to appreciation - and follow up.
Early years are considered unimportant and unnecessary because of the age of the child. The lessons we teach are not complex, but they are sophisticated and they are essential to development.
I remember when I was doing my BA (Hons) in ECEC, I was asked “why are you studying a degree in minding children, you’re way too smart for that!” Highly-skilled professionals and practitioners still receive less respect and recognition because it is considered a transient or filler job, not a serious occupation or sector.
Solution? More investment in early childhood education.
Perspective? It should not take a global pandemic to highlight the important work early childhood educators do. Research shows that children who attend high-quality early childhood educational services are more likely to own their own homes, less likely to be incarcerated and have better educational attainment than their peers who did not have access to quality early childhood education.
Questions? What will it take for continued investment and commitment to the betterment of early childhood education and why did it take covid-19 for early childhood teachers to get the respect that they deserve, even if temporary?