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Early childhood teachers’ perspectives on, and experiences of, multicultural education

Author(s): 
Karen Guo

The multicultural nature of early childhood services in New Zealand is highlighted by the statistical reality that 22 percent of children are Māori, 7 percent are Pasifika, and 11 percent are Asian and other non-European/Pākehā ethnicities. Multicultural early childhood education has become a vital practice underpinning educational reforms. This is evident in a range of government initiatives including, for example, building partnerships with whānau Māori to improve Māori success in education, introducing equity funding to reduce educational disparities between different community groups, and developing a Pasifika Education Plan that improves Pasifika children’s educational achievement. In this article, multicultural education is examined, considering early childhood teachers’ perspectives and experiences through the lens of Sleeter and Grant’s five approaches to multicultural education. The findings suggest that the teachers’ focus on children, culture, and community building drives their endeavours, and indicate that the use of a social reconstructionist approach has the potential to lead to transformative changes to multicultural education.

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