Bicultural competence in early childhood education

Higher education Children New Zealand

The research study emerged from the authors’ experiences as early childhood teachers and as initial teacher early childhood lecturers in the tertiary education sector.
The development of bicultural competency is a fundamental foundation to the provision of quality early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. To address the issue of teacher bicultural competence to apply knowledge of te reo me öna tikanga, the following research objectives were developed: 1. To conduct a comprehensive literature review of the use of kaupapa Mäori to develop bicultural competency in early childhood education.
To canvass the perceptions of a range of early childhood practitioners, both Mäori and nonMäori, of bicultural competency in early childhood education. Pivotal to the research project was the assumption of the validity of kaupapa Mäori theory and practice as the underpinning of the bicultural model of practice, without challenging the preeminence and importance of te reo Mäori me öna tikanga in early childhood education delivery. This research project used two kaupapa Mäori frameworks: one as the fundamental ethical commitment to engaging in kaupapa Mäori research and applying kaupapa methodology; the second as a tikanga framework for engaging with research participants that clearly identified the tikanga in practice during the research. These two distinct kaupapa Mäori frameworks guided the researchers.
A literature review was undertaken to position this study, preceded by an environmental scan to identify existing models of mainstream and kaupapa Mäori practice and bicultural teaching and learning programmes. The literature review revealed that currently only 14 per cent of early childhood education services in Aotearoa New Zealand report they are either bicultural or include some (unspecified) Mäori language in their services and programmes. This information confirmed for the researchers the gap between the cultural content of early childhood programmes in services and the outcome of culturally-competent practitioners working in early childhood services.

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