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Teachers’ perspectives and implementation of the child-centred curriculum for preschool education in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste has been an independent nation for more than 15 years. However, the acts of decolonisation and the rebuilding of the education system has been a dilemma. Today, providing health care, quality education, and upholding the rights of children continue to be fundamental problems for the country. Ensuring the quality of education at any level is pivotal. The quality of teachers’ pedagogy and knowledge are the foundation for providing a positive experience in preschool education in Timor-Leste. The Ministry of Education introduced reforms to the curriculum in 2014 that holds important principles, particularly the enforcing and encouraging of a child-centred curriculum. The teachers implementing this curriculum are mainly high school graduates, trained through INFORDEPE – the Ministry’s teacher training institution. This study examines and explores teachers’ perspectives, understanding, and methods of implementing a child-centred curriculum for preschool education in Timor-Leste. Through an interpretive paradigm, this study uses primary data to identify the need for changes in teaching practice and explores how child-centred approaches contribute to quality learning in preschools that reflect the learning outcomes desired in the curriculum. Multiple methods including semi-structured individual interviews, focus-group interviews, classroom observations and questionnaires were used in gathering data. Data were collected from four preschools, with the participants consisting of six teachers, four principals, four groups of parents, and four groups of students. The analysis of these data was informed by social constructivist perspectives, particularly those of Bronfenbrenner and Vygotsky. The key findings revealed that preschool teachers in Timor-Leste are in a process of transition from a colonised rote learning style curriculum to a child-centred curriculum. The recent policy values a child-centred curriculum and learning through play. However, there is a mismatch between the policy and its implementation. Although schools and parents view the preschool curriculum reform as a positive change and there is commitment from the principals and teachers to engage with and implement the new curriculum, a lack of professional knowledge, resources and basic needs remain as significant barriers. In addition, establishing supportive relationships between parents and schools remain under development. Therefore, a key policy priority should be to provide a robust plan for professional development, including follow-up and addressing the needs and barriers that preschool teachers may encounter. Additionally, a plan for the management and distribution of resources to all preschools, as well as providing for basic needs around toileting and clean water remain critical issues that are yet to be fully addressed.
Type of thesis
De Araujo, L. G. (2018). Teachers’ perspectives and implementation of the child-centred curriculum for preschool education in Timor-Leste. (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11946
The University of Waikato
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