Pathways to the Future

In 2002 the government released its strategic plan Pathways to the Future (Ministry of Education, 2002). This strategic plan (written by the architect of the Meade Report and subsequent policy reform, Dr. Anne Meade) reiterated the content of the former Meade Report. It comprised three broad goals for ECE: the first focusing on participation and school preparation; the second on the quality of ECE; and the third on parental engagement in ECE services. Also supporting the attainment of these goals was the 2005 Promoting Participation Project (Ministry of Education, 2005), funding mechanism policy documents and subsequent Maori education policy and strategy documents (see Ministry of Education, 2008, 2009, 2012). They all reflect the same goals. None of them have made specific meaningful provision for ECE Maori language in bilingual immersion settings; all of them focus on teacher credentials for whitestream ECE teachers, participation in, and funding of whitestream educational settings.

The primary organizing structure under the strategic direction of Pathways to the Future for the ECE sector has been about boosting “quality" thus defined as being able to employ professionally educated teachers and increased parental choice, accompanied by a prescribed funding regime. “Professionally educated teachers” in this context is all about teacher qualifications (for the English sector) and their ability to design curriculum through their planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. That there was no national teacher education program in 2002 specifically designed for bilingual immersion settings meant a monopoly in ECE education at the time Pathways to the Future was developed. English-language teacher graduates were able to walk into paid employment while Maori-language teachers in bilingual immersion settings were not. Quality became synonymous with mainstream/whitestream (English) ECE concepts of quality and reflected in their hegemonic programs. Therefore the three broad goals in ECE education, as determined by the Pathways to the Future policy document, of participation, quality, and parental engagement translated to participation in “English-language” centers, quality equating to whitestream settings with (monolingual) English teachers; and parental engagement being about “choice” (to enrol in whitestream centers) meant the absence of any real choice for Maori who desired to send their children to Maori bilingual/immersion settings. They were forced into whitestream settings. This resulted in a rapidly declining Maori medium sector.

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