Contesting neoliberalism in global early childhood education

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21 Jun 2021 - 7:00am
Online event
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UCL Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education
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Situated in a powerful policy discourse of neoliberalism, early childhood education (ECE) is increasingly politicised across countries as an arena for promoting state economic gains through providing young children with the foundations for future opportunities and lifelong learning. A global discourse of governance and control therefore emerges in ECE policies, aimed at ensuring the ‘effectiveness’ and socio-economic returns of ECE provisions in which governments invest.

In those policies, accountability is emphasised through inspections and assessments oriented by quality standards and child outcomes. Such accountability measurements further lead to the comparison among ECE systems internationally, especially as pushed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) initiatives, reports, and studies. Whilst comparisons between ECE systems provide alternative and/or various practices and possibilities to achieve high-quality ECE, the attempts to define international quality standards and indicators despite the contexts remain controversial.

In this research seminar, we invite international scholars from the global north and south to illuminate how neoliberalism manifests and shapes ECE in different social, cultural and political contexts. Reflecting on its hegemony, our speakers explore possibilities for resisting, refusing, and contesting neoliberalism in post-pandemic contexts of ECE. The following questions will be discussed in this seminar:

1. How does neoliberalism manifest and shape ECE in different contexts across the globe?

2. What are the challenges that ECE faces under the regime of neoliberalism in various societies?

3. What opportunities are possible in a post COVID-19 era to contest neoliberalism for social justice and equity in global ECE?

Speakers: (Alphabetical order)

Dr Vina Adriany, Head, Centre for Gender and Childhood Studies, Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, Indonesia;

Professor Michael A. Peters, Distinguished Professor, Beijing Normal University, China;

Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes, Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education, UCL Institute of Education, UK;

Chair: Dr Yuwei Xu, Research Fellow, Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education, UCL Institute of Education

Seminar overview:

5 min Introduction

20 min Presentation of each speaker (incl. 2-3min Q&A if needed)

20 min Panel discussion and Q&A

5 min Conclusion (One key take-home message from each speaker)


Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education, UCL Institute of Education, UK; Institute of Child Development and Family Education, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, China.