Reviewing implementation

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government agency charged with reviewing the delivery of education programs by ECCE centers and schools. In addition to regularly visiting and reporting on individual centers and schools, the ERO produces an ongoing series of wider national reports. Several recent reports have highlighted practices in relation to tamariki Maori (Maori children) in ECCE services (Education Review Office, 2008, 2010a, 2010b, 2012). A 2008 pilot study of 17 services reported that in only “just over half the services Maori children had opportunities to develop as confident and competent learners through programs that included aspects of te reo and tikanga Maori” (Maori language and cultural practices) (Education Review Office, 2008, p. 1). In this and the subsequent larger study of 576 centers, assimilatory pedagogies were prevalent in that many teachers and managers said that they “treated all children the same” (Education Review Office, 2008, 2010a) and that their aspirations for Maori children were the same as for other children, indicating that they had not bothered to find out what Maori parents/whanau aspirations for their children might be. Rhetoric was not transferred into practice, since although most services included reference to Maori perspectives in documentation such as their philosophy statement and policies, these were not applied within daily practice. In addition, many services lacked adequate self-review processes to evaluate the effectiveness of their provision for Maori children (Education Review Office, 2008, 2010a).

Also of concern is that, “Although many services implemented what they considered to be a bicultural curriculum, the quality and relevance of this was variable. Managers and educators did not yet fully recognize the importance of acknowledging Maori children’s cultural identity and heritage” (Education Review Office, 2010a, p. 2). That this was the scenario a decade and a half after Te Whariki had explicitly stated the Tiriti o Waitangi commitments of the ECCE sector is worrying indeed and calls into question the adequacy of infrastructural and resourcing supports for early childhood teachers. What are the alternate currents, the “desiring machines” that serve to reinforce the power relations that reterritorialize/invisibilize te ao Maori (Maori worldview) priorities, despite the reiteration of these within mandated documents?

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