Early Childhood Care and Education Policy Implementation. An Analysis of Abichu Gnea Woreda


Master's Thesis, 2020

151 Pages, Grade: 4.00


Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION

STATEMENT OF THE AUTHOR

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

ABSTRACT

1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. Background of the Study
1.2. Statement of the Problem
1.3. Research Questions
1.4. Objectives of the Study
1.4.1. General Objective
1.4.2. Specific Objectives
1.5. Significance of the Study
1.6. Scope of the Study
1.7. Operational Definition of Key Terms

2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1. Concept and Definition of Early Childhood Care and Education
2.2. Conceptof Policy Implementation Analysis
2.3. The Rationale for the ECCE Program
2.4. AnOverview of ECCE in Ethiopia
2.5. Policy, Program and Strategic Plan in Ethiopia Regarding ECCE
2.5.1. ECCE Policy Framework in Ethiopia
2.5.1.1. Guiding Principles of the ECCE Policy Framework
2.5.1.2. Structural Set-up and Focusof Activities
2.5.2. Ethiopia’s Commitment to ECCE during ESDP
2.6. An Overviews of Previous Studies Conducted on ECCE in Ethiopia
2.7. Previous Studies Conducted Regarding ECCE Policy Implementation Analysis
2.8. Major Components of ECCE Policy Implementation Analysis
2.9. Conceptual Framework of the Study

3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.1. Description of the Study Area
3.2. Research Design
3.3. Sources of Data
3.3.1. Primary Sources of Data
3.3.2. Secondary Sources of Data
3.4. Population, Samples and Sampling Techniques
3.5. Data Collection Instruments
3.5.1. Interview
3.5.2. Observation
3.5.3. Document Review
3.5.4. Questionnaire
3.6. The Validity and Reliability of Instruments
3.7. Data Collection Procedure
3.8. Method of Data Analysis
3.9. Ethical Considerations

4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.1. Demographic Characteristics of Participants
4.2. ECCE Policy Implementation
4.2.1. Target Group or Beneficiaries of Pre-Primary School Program
4.2.2. The Physical Environment of Pre-Primary School
4.2.3. In and Out-door Play and Learning Materials in the Pre-Primary Schools
4.2.3.1. In-door Materials and Their Arrangements
4.2.3.2. Outdoor Equipmentand Their Arrangements
4.2.4. Activity Plans in the Pre-Primary Schools
4.2.5. Availability and Content of thePre-Primary School Curriculum
4.2.6. Learning Methodology in the Pre-Primary School
4.2.7. Assessment of Children in the Pre-Primary Schools
4.2.8. Availability and Professional Competence of Main and Assistant Teachers in the Pre-Primary Schools
4.2.9. Participation of Parents and Communities in the Pre-Primary School
4.2.10. Health and Nutrition Services in the Pre-Primary Schools
4.2.11. Monitoring the Pre-Primary Schools Program
4.3. Involvement of Responsible Stakeholders during the ECCE Policy Implementation
4.3.1. Government Bodies
4.3.2. Non-GovemmentBodies
4.3.3. Parents
4.4. Impeding Factorsduring the Implementation of ECCE Policy
4.4.1. Budget
4.4.2. Working in Collaboration with Different Stake holders
4.4.3. Availability and Quality of Materials and Facilities
4.4.4. Skills and Training of Pre-primary Education Teachers
4.4.5. Parental Involvement

5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1. Summary
5.2. Conclusion
5.3. Recommendations

REFERENCES

LISTOF TABLES INTHE APPENDIX

APPENDIX-A

APPENDIX - B

APPENDIX - C

APPENDIX - D

APPENDIX - E

LIST OF TABLES

1. Target population, sample and sampling technique

2. Demographic characteristics of parents who were interviewed

3. Demographic characteristics of PPE teachers, school principals and school supervisor

4. Demographic characteristics of Education Officials

5. Physical Environment and Basic Facilities in Pre-Primary Schools

6. Indoor Conditions of Each Sampled Pre-Primary School

7. Availability of Outdoor Play Equipment in Sampled Pre-primary Schools

8. Arrangement of Out-door Play Equipments

9. Regarding Budget

10. Working in Collaboration with Different Stakeholders

11. Regarding Availability and Quality of Materials and Facilities

12. Regarding Skills and Training

13. Regarding Parental Involvement

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Conceptual Framework of the Study

DEDICATION

I dedicate this piece of work to my beloved mother Shasho Dagne, who passed away in 1998 E.C without having a chance to witness her son’s academic and professional achievements and devoid of the opportunity to see her young son’s efforts at climbing the ladder of success. I will always remember her sincere and devoted efforts to help me cope with the challenges of my life until her last breath.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

The author was born in Oromia Region, Dera Woreda on August 22, 1982 E.C. He attended his elementary school at Abdi Boru Primary School and Secondary School Education at Bitotessa 17 comprehensive Secondary School. Then he joined Sebeta Teachers’ Training College in 2001 E.C. and graduated with Diploma on June 24, 2003 E.C. After working as a teacher in the Oromia Region at Akebdo Primary School for two years, he joined Haramaya University to attend Summer Program and graduated in 2010 E.C. with a BA degree in Special Needs and Inclusive Education. Soon after, he joined again Haramaya University in 2011 E.C. to pursue his M.A. Degree in Special Needs and Inclusive Education.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First and foremost, I would like to present glory and honour to the alpha and omega almighty God who sustained me to the final grasp of this study.

The effort I applied to carry out this research was not only an individual endeavour. Hence, it is my pleasure to acknowledge the following for their contribution.

I am greatly indebted to my major adviser, Dr. Dawit Negassa for his careful and constant effort in reading thoroughly my work and for offering insightful and timely comments. Without his tolerance, guidance, and unreserved support, this work would not have reached its present status.

My deepest and heartfelt gratitude goes to my co-advisor, Prof. Sohayl Mohajor for his unreserved, fruitful as well as constructive comments and suggestions. His knowledge and comments to the highest standards inspired and motivated me. Without his encouragement and genuine follow up the thesis would not have been completed.

My sincere gratitude goes to participants, pre-primary education teachers, school principals, WEO, REB, and MOE for their full participation and support during the data collection.

My utmost appreciation and gratitude go to my beloved brother, Mr. Amare Shumetu for the support, constant encouragement, and conscious moral support as well as my beloved spouse w/ro Askale Dechasa, for taking care of our son with the burden of work and life during my absence for the course of MA and for study. My son, Firankisan Misahun; I missed your wonderful company and the joy of spending time with you because I was attending courses and conducting this research. This study was for your future.

Finally, I would like to thank all individuals who have helped me in one way or the other.

Thank you all!!!

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION POLICY IMPLEMENTATION

ANALYSIS: THE CASE OF ABICHU GNEA WOREDA

Misahun Shumetu Taye

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to analyze the ECCE policy implementation in Abichu Gnea Woreda. The research approach was a mixed-method, 'with exploratory sequential design. Ten Pre-primary schools were selected through stratified sampling technique. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from pre-primary education teachers (N=21), school principals (N=10), school supervisors (N=10), parents (N=10), WEO (N=l), REB (N=l), andMoE (N=l) using questionnaire and interview. The qualitative data obtained through the interview, observations, and document reviews were analyzed using a cross-case analysis technique. The quantitative data obtained through the questionnaire were analyzed using the Kruskal Wallis statistical test. Finally, the result was compared 'with the ECCE policy guideline to ascertain whether the policy is implemented accordingly. The finding of the study showed that the ECCE policy was only on the document. In the majority of the pre-primary schools, basic facilities were not adequate, pre-primary schools were not physically safe, there were not enough out and indoor space, learning, and play materials were inadequate, majority of teachers were below certificate level. The lack of budget, lack of co-operation 'with stakeholders, inadequate availability of materials and facilities, inadequate skilled human power and lack of parental involvement impeded proper implementation of ECCE. At last, it is concluded that, though some progress has been made, there are very huge challenges that impede the implementation of the ECCE policy. Finally, it is recommended that the government need to focus on rural areas, enough budgets should be allocated at all levels, the WEO, and REB need to facilitate training for all ECCE staff, and responsible stakeholders need to work in collaboration. Furthermore, the REB is recommended to establish a continuous professional development center equipped with full educational input in which teachers regularly share their experiences.

Keywords:Analysis, ECCE, Implementation, Policy, Pre-primary School, Preschool

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Background of the Study

Education is fundamental to all strivings for development that a country makes. It plays a vital role in producing qualified, competent, well informed, socially effective individuals that a country needs to work in various sectors. To play such significant roles, education needs to meet quality standards at all levels. As a foundation, one of the most important things to do in relation to having quality education is paying careful attention to early childhood care and education. Early childhood learning not only supports the development of cognitive, social, emotional, and motivational skills but also guides later learning and achievement, which in turn contributes to the ‘human capital’ that underpins the economic well-being of the broader community (Bennett, 2011). In realizing this, the quality of early childhood care and education has a momentous role.

In Ethiopia, early childhood received a policy boost in 2010 through the publication of a ‘National Policy Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)’ built around four pillars. The first two pillars, parental education and a comprehensive program of early child health and stimulation are focused on children from the prenatal period up to age 3 and fall under the Ministry of Health. The third and fourth pillars have been more targeted for children aged 4 to 6, comprising of non-formal school readiness (notably Child-to-Child) initiatives and the establishment of pre-schools of various kinds, including community-based pre-schools, private pre-schools, and pre-schools attached to primary schools (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

Similarly, after ECCE had received a policy boost, it was incorporated in ESDP IV by getting high priority. Accordingly, during the period from 2010-15, the Government of Ethiopia, through the Ministry of Education and Regional Education Bureaus, has supported the large-scale implementation of pre-primary education, in all areas of the country, via a combination of government, community, non-governmental (NGO), church and private sector initiatives. From a level of just over 340,000 in the 2009/10 academic year, enrolment reached over 3,000,000 in 2014/15. Students are enrolled across Child-to- Child schemes, multi-year kindergarten programs, Accelerated School Readiness courses, and a one-year O-Class ‘reception’ year (MoE, 2015).

In addition to the above, to overcome the problems that were faced during the implementation of ESDP IV regarding ECCE, the Ministry of Education set ambitious targets for its next five years plan (2015/16-2019/20), which were elaborated in its fifth Education Sector Development Programme (MoE, 2015). The Education Sector Development Programme Five (ESDP V) has been leading national planning and implementation in the education sector and highlights pre-primary education as a priority, with the goal: “to provide all children with access to pre-primary education for school preparedness”.

Similarly, in Oromia, ECCE as the first formal setup along the educational pathway is acknowledged to benefit children age four to six. It is aimed at the social, intellectual, emotional, and physical development to promote children's success in the primary grades (OEB, 2012; cited in Mamo, 2014). Consequently, as the recently prepared three fundamental ECCE policy documents including a national policy framework, a strategic operation plan, and guidelines have been adopted and they serve as a cornerstone to guide basic issues that ECCE should address in the region. This study analyzes the status of implementation of the ECCE policy by describing what exists in comparison to the policy guidelines stated in the national policy framework of the 2010 ECCE policy.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

In the first year of ESDP IV, the government established a Strategic Operational Plan and Guidelines for ECCE. The strategy encourages private investors, faith-based organizations, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) into the delivery of ECCE. These efforts have allowed the gross enrolment rate for pre-primary to reach 34% in 2013/14, of which around a quarter is in three-year kindergarten and the remainder are in one-year O-Class and Child-to-Child instruction. This is above the ESDP IV preordained target for ECCE which was 20% from a baseline of 6.9% at the start of the plan (MoE, 2015).

By persistent efforts, in 2015 in Ethiopia, to attain still higher achievements and to fill the gap of implementation observed during ESDP IV regarding ECCE, the Ministry of Education had set ambitious targets for the five years beginning from 2015/16 up to 2019/20, which was elaborated in its fifth Education Sector Development Programme (MoE, 2015). ESDP V has been leading national planning and implementation in the education sector and highlights pre-primary education as a priority, with the goal: “to provide all children with access to pre-primary education for school preparedness” (MoE, 2015). The implementation of the national program will come to an end in the coming year (2019/2020). Hence, this study attempted to analyze the practical trends and major challenges ofECCE against stated targets in the 2010 ECCE policy guideline and ESDP V. The reason that inspired the current researcher to conduct this evaluative study was to examine the extent to which the government had managed to implement the ECCE policy stated in ECCE policy framework ten years after its enactment.

Moreover, having examined and looked at some studies about the advantage and nature of early childhood care and education programs, there were some studies conducted in Ethiopia. For instance, Woodhead, Ames, Vennaman, Abebe, and Streuli (2009), conducted a study on Challenges for early childhood and primary education in Ethiopia, India, and Peru. Findings from the study revealed that the opportunity to attend pre-school education is almost entirely restricted to urban children in Ethiopia. Nearly 58 % of children in urban communities had attended pre-school at some point since the age of 3. In contrast, less than 4 % of rural children had attended pre-school education and for many rural communities even accessing basic primary schooling remains elusive. Also, in those few cases where rural children did access preschool, they did so later (average around 55 months) than their urban counterparts (48 months). Besides, the researcher recommended that in Ethiopia, to fill the gap in ECCE provision, especially in offering educational equity to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, requires highly targeted investment in quality programs, and giving attention to rural as well as urban communities. However, after this researcher recommended the above, there was no study conducted in the rural areas of the country to investigate the practical trends of ECCE in rural areas and still it is abandoned which needs in-depth investigation.

On the other hand, the study conducted at different areas of the country by Mamo (2014); Admasu (2014), and Amogne (2014); on the current situation of pre-primary education; found out that the implementation of pre-primary education program was weak since it was not aligned with the pre-primary education standard as intended. Because: teachers /personnel were both limited in number and not qualified for the required level; inadequate provisions and lack of financial support; too little parent-schools partnership, and insubstantial roles of administration bodies (WEO, pre-primary schools). Besides, Yigzaw and Abdirahman (2017) conducted a study on the practices and challenges of public and private pre-schools of Jijiga City Administration. Findings from the study revealed that preschool practices in all sampled preschools were found to be below standard, unable to use local stories since teachers were not from the community, and knowledge of parents, teachers, and principals towards the contribution of the preschool were found to be limited. All the aforementioned researchers did not investigate policy implementation analysis and they focused only on the urban areas of the country and, so far as the knowledge of the current investigator goes, there is no study conducted in the rural areas of the country regarding ECCE.

Similarly, Fedlu (2018) conducted research on the implementation and challenges of the policy set for early childhood care and education in Addis Ababa; and found out that; ECCE policy emphasized only on access. In the majority of the centers, facilities were not adequate and the teaching process didn’t address the requirements of children with special needs. Students’ textbooks were unavailable, and the majority of teachers did not possess the required qualifications. The way PTA sessions were organized varied from KG to KG, Health, and Nutrition of children were not given due attention, the annual school program terminated in two terms, and the majority of the centers’ sites were not suitable.

The studies cited above were mainly concerned with the issue comprehensively and also focused around the urban areas of the country. Besides, they did not investigate policy implementation analysis against the policy guidelines stated in the national ECCE policy framework of 2010. Moreover, there is no former study conducted around the study area regarding the ECCE. This is one of the reasons that motivated the researcher to conduct a study on the ECCE policy implementation against the standards set in the Ethiopian national policy guideline of ECCE in general and in the region in particular. Hence, this study was focused on pre-primary schools that were attached to government primary schools of the rural area, and it filled the gap by revealing the status of policy implementation ofECCE in the selected rural area.

1.3. Research Questions

1. To what extent did the ECCE policy Framework and standard guidelines get implemented?
2. To what extent did responsible stakeholders discharge their roles and responsibilities in implementing the ECCE policy?
3. What, if any, were the key impeding factors in the implementation of the ECCE policy outlined in the ECCE policy framework?

1.4. Objectives of the Study

1.4.1. General Objective

The study intended to analyze the extent to which the ECCE policy framework of 2010 was being implemented in selected pre-primary schools of Abichu Gnea woreda of North Shoa Zone of Oromia Regional State.

1.4.2. Specific Objectives

1. To examine the extent to which the WEO has managed to implement the ECCE policy ten years after its enactment.
2. To examine the extent to which the stakeholders have discharged their role and responsibilities in implementing the ECCE policy.
3. To identify the main challenges encountered during the implementation of the ECCE policy.
4. To suggest possible means with a view of improving the implementation of Pre Primary education in the selected Woreda with reference to the findings of the study.

1.5. Significance of the Study

The researcher of this study believes that the research findings may help schools, WEO, REB, and MoE to identify their implementation problems and take timely corrective actions with their combined effort; and scaling up the best practices to other areas. The research might enable schools; WEO, REB, and MoE to make rational decisions for their future planning. The research could also help other researchers undertake wide-scale research in other dimensions of this challenge.

1.6. Scope of the Study

The study was delimited to the policy implementation analysis of early childhood care and education in Abichu Gnea Woreda from the standpoint of the ECCE policy guidelines of 2010. In Abichu Gnea Woreda there are 55 pre-primary schools attached to Government primary schools. Since the size of the population is large all the pre-primary schools could not be included. Therefore, the study was focused only on 10 Government Pre-primary Schools and WEO.

On the other hand, ECCE policy has four pillars including parental education, health and early stimulation (birth to 3+ years), vari'ous kinds of pre-schools, including community­based pre-schools, private pre-schools, and pre-schools attached to primary schools and non-formal school readiness (notably Child-to-Child) initiatives (MoE, MoH, and MoCWA, 2010). But, this study was limited only to the third pillar or pre-school program and more specifically on pre-schools attached to primary schools. Furthermore, though there were several stakeholders in the implementation of early childhood care and education programs, the study was comprised of only teachers, principals, parents, Woreda education officials, REB, and MoE. Finally, in terms of time, the study was delimited to the analysis of ECCE policy guidelines ten years after enactment and involved the analysis ofECCE policy implementation during ESDP IV and V.

1.7. Operational Definition of Key Terms

Analysis:refers to a detailed examination of the ECCE policy guideline in Ethiopia against its implementation.

Early Childhood Care and Education:is used interchangeably as ‘pre-primary Education’, and ‘Pre-school’ to refer to a program for children from age 4 to 6 to make them ready for regular school, and also it involves both care and education.

ECCE Policy:in this study refers to the ECCE policy guidelines designed by MoE in 2010.

Policy Implementation Analysis:refers to a detailed examination of the third pillar (pre­primary education) of the 2010 ECCE policy framework in Ethiopia against its implementation.

Woreda:refers to the third-level administrative divisionsofEthiopia. They are further subdivided into a number of wards (kebele) or neighbourhood associations, which are the smallest unit oflocal government in Ethiopia.

2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

This review covers basic points in concept and definition of ECCE; concepts of policy implementation analysis; the rationale for the ECCE program; an overview of ECCE in Ethiopia; policy, program and strategic plan in Ethiopia regarding ECCE; an overview of previous studies conducted on ECCE in Ethiopia; previous studies conducted regarding ECCE policy implementation analysis; major components of ECCE policy implementation analysis; and finally, the conceptual framework of this study.

2.1. Concept and Definition of Early Childhood Care and Education

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is defined as the range of out-of-home care and educational settings that children experience between birth and school entry. This definition acknowledges that primary education begins at different ages in different countries. It is a specific sector of services within the larger universe of early childhood development policies and programs, which encompass health, nutrition, child protection, social protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene policies. At the same time, ECCE programs and policies can either integrate services from other sectors or coordinate with them atthe community, sub-national, and/or national levels. (UNICEF, 2017)

It is important to be clear about the terms used in this part: “early care and education” is used interchangeably with early learning. Both terms refer to the full scope of early childhood care and education settings that children encounter before mandatory school attendance, including childcare, family childcare, preschool, prekindergarten, nursery schools, and kindergarten.

Early childhood care and education recently used as school readiness as mentioned above. UNICEF (2012, p.5) suggested that school readiness is the foundation of equity and quality education; it is linked to improved academic outcomes in primary and behavioral competencies in adulthood. Accordingly, UNICEF defined school readiness in three interrelated dimensions such as ready children, ready school, and ready families. Furthermore, UNICEF elaborates that children, schools, and families are considered ready when they have gained the competencies and skills required to interface with the other dimensions and support smooth transitions. For instance, the child transition to school, the school transition to accepting new children into Grade 1, and the families transition to sending their children to school on time and interacting with school.

In early childhood education or school readiness concept to bring the holistic development of children all parts i.e. the child, school, and families have to develop competencies and skills. Especially, parent's/caregiver's awareness is essential to stimulate the child‘s cognitive, emotional, and social aspects foundation to send their children into school on time.

International Labour Organization ILO (2012, p. 2-3) used, different terms: in defining early childhood care and education (ECCE); including early childhood education and care (ECEC); early child and early childhood development (ECD); and early childhood education (ECE). The first is used throughout this research, with a focus on the care and educational aspects of these services that are similar to the broader concept of “care” and “education”.

2.2. Concept of Policy Implementation Analysis

The term policy is central to the operation and activities of both private organizations and public institutions. A policy option made by an individual or private institution is known as a privacy policy while the one made by the government or its institutions is called public policy (Ozor, 2004). However, the term policy as it is used in this study refers to only the ones made by the government and which are, as such, regarded as public policies.

Scholars have viewed the term policy differently and from various perspectives. Some emphasize policy as an action. Others see it as a choice. Yet, some see it in terms of scope of action (Ikelegbe, 2006). In other words, the way a given scholar conceptualizes a policy depends on the perspective from which the scholar is viewing it and this accounts for the varied definition of the concept. For instance, in the view of Egonwan (1991), it is a governmental program of action, while to Ezeani (2006), it is the proposed course of action which government intends to implement in respect of a given problem or situation confronting it. Ikelegbe (2006), in a more elaborate form, defines policy thus; “It is the integrated course and programs of action that government has set and the framework or guides it has designed to direct action and practices in certain problems area.” In essence, a policy is a course setting action that provides the direction, the guide, and the way to the achievement of certain goals or objectives desired by the government.

On the other hand, the next and most crucial stage after policy formulation is its implementation. Policy implementation involves translating the goals and objectives of policy into action. According to Ikelegbe (2006), policy implementation is the process of translating policy into actions and presumptions into results through various projects and programs. Kraft and Furlong (2007) and Ajaegbu and Eze (2010) state that policy implementation actually refers to the process and activities involved in the application, effectuation, and administration of policy. A variety of activities are involved in policy implementation that may include issuing and enforcing directives, disbursing funds, signing contracts, collecting data and analyzing problems, hiring and assigning personnel, setting committees and commissions, assigning duties and responsibilities and also making interim decisions, etc (Nweke, 2006).

After the policy has been in place for a year or several years, civil servants or an independent consulting firm assesses the policy, to see if the goals were achieved, if the policy was implemented effectively, etc. Therefore, Policy implementation analysis places emphasis on understanding the success or failure of public policy by elaborating on factors that affect it. This concept of implementation helps to draw the attention of policymakers and implemented to study the processes that influence and establish the outcome of public policy (Bempah, 2012).

2.3. The Rationale for the ECCE Program

It is widely recognized that early childhood care and education is an integral part of basic education and represents the first and essential step in achieving the goals of Education for All in particular and the foundation for human development in general. To achieve this goal, all children have to engage in preschool at an early age and be exposed to an improved learning environment that could help them and inspire their creativity and ability. In relation to this, Africa Fit for Children May (2001) stated; “Today’s investment in children is tomorrow’s peace, stability, security, democracy, and sustainable development.”

Early childhood is a distinct period in life during which basic changes take place and thus commonly recognized as a foundation for all other stages of human development. The rate of development in these years is more rapid than at any other stage of development. Studies commonly show that experiences during early childhood critically influence the physical, psychological, social, and cognitive development of the child. To maximize the potential of the child, therefore, early childhood care and education (ECCE) plays a pivotal role by facilitating an enabling and stimulating environment in this foundation stage of life.

According to Bennett (2011), research into children’s development has strengthened the arguments in favour of providing high-quality services for children from the earliest age. This is due to the fact that the skills and abilities acquired in early childhood are fundamental to a person’s success and well-being in later life. Global brain research also informs us about the significance of early years for brain development. A positive early childhood provides personal and economic benefits to the individual and also to society.

Furthermore, preschool education plays a significant role as it helps children in the successful completion of primary education. It provides the foundation for all-round development and enables the child to understand various issues (Harkness and Super, 1991). The child at this stage needs to be encouraged to develop a positive attitude through the child to nature and the child to child interaction education is to be designed carefully to provide wholesome growth and development of children.

On the other hand, negative experiences in early childhood fundamentally undermine the building blocks on which later achievements rely. Hence, the quality of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program makes a positive contribution to children’s long-term development (Bennett, 2011). Above all, it is the right of children as citizens to get quality care and education services.

Understanding the decisive role ofECCE for latter development, the Ethiopian government has taken it as one of the priority areas in the Education Sector Development Plan V (MoE, 2015). As clearly indicated in the plan, ECCE is considered as one of the potential inputs to the overall improvement of quality of education and reduction of drop out and repetition rates in later stages of formal schooling. In spite of this fact, so far, the issue of early childhood care and education in Ethiopia did not receive the proper attention and action it deserves.

ECCE in Ethiopia could be regarded as the profession of ‘no man’s land’. The huge gap between ECCE policy and practice in Ethiopia could among other things be due to the lack of trained professionals in the area. Had there been a sufficient number of trained professionals in the field, they would have played important role in the development of proper ECCE programs, guidelines, and manuals and unrelentingly advocate the rights of children not only as activists and volunteers but as professionals.

2.4. An Overview of ECCE in Ethiopia

As modern education is a phenomenon of the early 20th century to Ethiopia so also is kindergarten, however, the establishment of modem preschool preceded, by eight years, the introduction of modem western education into Ethiopia which took place in 1908. The first modern kindergarten was established in Dire Dawa for the children of French consultants who were helping build the first railroad in Ethiopia in 1900 (Demeke, 2003 as cited in Tesema, 2012).

According to Tirussew, et al. (2007) several other private preschools such as English school, the German school, the Lycel Gebre Mariam, etc were giving services for children of the well-to-do families in Addis Ababa following the operation of kindergarten in Dire Dawa in 1900’s preschool as a general community service began in 1955 EC, with a few pilot projects established at the community centers in Ras Desta Sefer (Addis Ababa), Debre Zeit, Debre Berhan, Awassa and Asmara under the Ministry of National Community Development and Social Affairs and these centers were run by Swedish and American Peace Corps volunteers.

Moreover, the development of kindergarten in Ethiopia was very gradual compared to preschool expansion in other nations during the same period of time and stated that from 1908 to 1974 for example, only 77 kindergartens were established in Ethiopia limited to urban areas of the country operated by missionaries, private organizations and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Development. The central government at that time paid little attention to early childhood since it was felt that scarce resources should be directed to creating literate adults to run the emerging modem state (Tesema, 2012).

Following the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, kindergarten quickly got attention from the government at that time based on the assumption that making the women free from child­rearing activities could increase the participation of the women in the socio-political environment under the slogan of the time “Revolution can’t be successful without the active participation of women.” Based on this preschool education become part of national education policy and the preschool curriculum was developed in Ethiopia for the first time. The kindergartens were community (Keble) based on poor resources and run by untrained caregivers mostly women.

2.5. Policy, Program and Strategic Plan in Ethiopia Regarding ECCE

The Transitional Government ofEthiopia (TGE) ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) stated that all international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the law of the land (Article 9 (4)). In order to address the right to education, the FDRE has developed an Education and Training Policy in 1991 (FDRE, 1994) which stated the nature of education and training in Ethiopia. The Government continued its effort to educate children by committing itself to the international and national declarations, policies, legislation, and strategies. The Education for All (UNESCO, 1990; 2000), the United Nation‘s Millennium declaration on Millennium Development Goals (UNESCO, 2000) and the Ethiopian Government Education Sector Development Programs (ESDPs I, II, III, IV, V) are worth mentioning.

The international declarations and frameworks clearly support the importance of early childhood education and encourage investment in children, one of the six goals established in The Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All was expanding early childhood care and education. In the Education and Training Policy document, early childhood education was addressed in the Educational Structure 3.2.1 as ...kindergarten will focus on all-rounded development of the child in preparation for formal schooling.. .p.14 (FDRE, 1994).

Since 2010, ECE has been getting due attention and some changes have been observed. To mention some, ESDP IV has emphasized ECE (Tsegai, 2015). The Ethiopian government, with the support of UNICEF, has drafted a strategic operational plan and guidelines for early childhood care and education (ECCE) (MoE, MoH and MoWA, 2010a), and a national policy framework for early childhood care and education (MoE, MoH and MoWA, 2010b) to inform the implementation of ECCE. More importantly, ECCE has become one of the priority areas in Education in ESDP V (MoE, 2016). The policy and strategy changes lead to considerable access to ECE at the national level.

2.5.1. ECCE Policy Framework in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, early childhood care and education policy has been stated in 2010 for the better improvement of children in their early years. These statements were put in the way that its vision, mission, goals, and strategic objectives, guiding principles, and structural set-up and focus of activities. According to the National policy framework, (2010) stated: its vision was to ensure all children the right to a healthy start in life, be nurtured in a safe, caring, and stimulating environment, and develop to their fullest potential and its mission was elaborated as aimed to provide a comprehensive, integrated, quality, developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive service for the holistic development of all children.

On the other hand, the overall goal of the policy framework is to promote early stimulation and the best start in life for all children from prenatal to seven years and enhance the quality, accessibility, and equitable distribution of services for education through more efficient partnership and capacity building programs. Specifically, the strategic objectives of the policy stated to;

- Establish a cohort governance structure for ECCE and ensure the mainstreaming of ECCE in all relevant national policies and programs.
- Promote and support the development of accessible, equitable, and quality ECCE services for all children, particularly for vulnerable children with special needs and marginalized children.
- Protect young children from any form of abuse and harmful practices.
- Promote and strengthen partnerships and collaboration among all stakeholders required for the effective delivery of services and programs for young children.
- Mobilize, plan, and allocate the necessary resources to ensure quality services for all children from prenatal to seven years of age.

2.5.1.1. Guiding Principles of the ECCE Policy Framework

- Upholding and reinforcing beneficial Ethiopian cultural values, including the involvement of families and parents, and community participation.
- Ensuring the holistic needs of young children are met
- Equitable access to quality ECCE for all
- Inclusive approach addressing vulnerable and marginalized children particularly children with special needs
- Inter-sectoral and integrated coordination among relevant ministries and organizations working on childcare rights, health, education, and development
- The community-based approach, cost-effectiveness, and feasible road map, with concrete action programs that ensure every child, has, in the near future, access to early childcare education and developmentbefore she/hejoin formal schooling.
- ECCE serving the needs of all groups of children from prenatal to seven years
- The family is the first responsible body for supporting the holistic development of their children and hence they need to be empowered and supported to ensure they are effective in their roles.

2.5.1.2. Structural Set-up and Focus of Activities

Early childhood education in Ethiopia covers the period from prenatal up to the primary. In describing the developmental needs two age cohorts are used: prenatal to 3+ years and 4 till 6+ years. The challenge is to design programs that promote the holistic development of the child for dynamic expression of behavior in environmental exploration, motor movement, psycho-emotional expression, social skills, and communication skills.

The baseline study clearly indicated that ECCE in Ethiopia is still in its early development stage. Most parents are not fully aware of their crucial role in their children^ development and/or lack basic parental competencies. At the same time, there is no comprehensive ECCE service system in place yet and accesses to existing services such as health centers are limited. It will take more than a few years before policy goals can be achieved.

To begin with, an efficient and cost-effective route has to be developed for the comprehensive implementation of ECCE covering the prenatal period until the 6+ year group. A broadly supported basic set-up has emerged from the discussions. According to this set-up, the ministry of health will have the lead for the young children from the prenatal period to the 3+ year group, and the ministry of education for the 4+ to 6+ year groups. This division stems from the idea that prenatal to 3+years of age, health, nutrition, and early stimulation by the parents are the most crucial elements in the young child‘s holistic development. For the 4+ to 6+ years old children, on top of attention to the health and nutrition aspect, attention for the cognitive and psycho-social development becomes more formal. The beginning of early childhood education starts.

2.5.2. Ethiopia’s Commitment to ECCE during ESDP V

In 2015, the Ministry of Education set ambitious targets for the next five years (2015/16­2019/20), which are elaborated in its fifth Education Sector Development Programme (MoE, 2015). ESDP V now leads national planning and implementation in the education sector and highlights pre-primary education as a priority, with the goal: “to provide all children with access to pre-primary education for school preparedness”.

In ESDP V many targets and strategies were stated to be achieved at the end of 2019/2020 for instance, raising up pre-primary gross enrolment from 35% to 80%, attaining 100% at least one year of pre-primary education, qualifying teachers of ECCE at least with diploma (achieving 15%), putting qualified leader for the school of pre-primary education (100%), expanding pre-primary institution that has been externally inspected once (100%), attaining 60% of pre-primary schools that met and well above the standards (MoE, 2015).

The focus is on ESDP V’s ambitious goals for expanding learning opportunities during the pre-primary years, especially the challenges of ensuring equity in both access and quality, during rapid scale-up towards the target of 80% of 4- to 6-year-olds.

2.6. An Overviews of Previous Studies Conducted on ECCE in Ethiopia

Regarding the advantage and nature of early childhood care and education programs, there are some studies in Ethiopia. For instance, Woodhead, et al. (2009), conducted a study on Challenges for early childhood and primary education in Ethiopia, India, and Peru. Findings from the study revealed that in Ethiopia to fill the gap in ECCE provision, especially in offering educational equity to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, requires highly targeted investment in quality programs, and giving attention to rural as well as urban communities.

On the other hand, the study conducted in different areas of the country by Mamo (2014); Admasu (2014), and Amogne (2014); on the current situation of pre-primary education; found out that the implementation of pre-primary education program was weak since it was not aligned with the pre-primary education standard as intended. Because: teachers/personnel were both limited in number and not qualified to the required level; inadequate provisions and lack of financial support; too little parent-schools partnership, and insubstantial roles of administration bodies (WEO, pre-primary schools). Besides, Yigzaw and Abdirahman (2017) conducted a study on the practices and challenges of public and private pre-schools of Jijiga City Administration. Findings from the study revealed that preschool practices in all sampled preschools were found to be below standard, unable to use local stories since teachers were not from the community, and knowledge of parents, teachers, and principals towards the contribution of the preschool were found to be limited. All the aforementioned researchers focused only on the urban areas of the country and there is no study conducted in the rural areas of the country regarding ECCE.

These researchers were mainly concerned with the issue comprehensively and also focused around the urban areas of the country. Besides, they did not investigate policy implementation analysis against the policy guidelines stated in the national ECCE policy framework of 2010. Moreover, there is no former study conducted around the study area regarding the ECCE. This is one of the reasons that initiated the researcher to conduct a study on the ECCE policy implementation against the standards set in the Ethiopian national policy guideline of ECCE in general and in the region in particular. Hence, this study will focus on pre-primary schools that are attached to government primary schools of the rural area, and it will fill the gap by revealing the status of policy implementation of ECCE in the rural area.

2.7. Previous Studies Conducted Regarding ECCE Policy Implementation Analysis

There are various national and international studies conducted previously regarding the analysis ofECCE policy implementation. Among them, Simon et al. (2015) conducted a study on the assessment of the early childhood development policy implementation in Kenya, a case study of Ruiru district. The results of the study indicate that the government should consider the prioritization of teacher employment and training them on early childhood development policy standards. Parents and communities should take part in the improvement of early childhood development class infrastructure especially in rural areas where early childhood development is mainly provided in public facilities.

In Ethiopia, there are some conducted studies regarding policy implementation analysis. For instance, Nigussie (2011) conducted a study on the policy and practice of preschool education in Oromia regional state: the case of Borena zone kindergartens. Findings from the study revealed that the objectives of the curriculum lack focus to address the development of the children, the relevance of the contents to meet the growing needs of children was found to be low, essential indoor and outdoor equipment and materials and instructional materials were inadequate, scarce of assistant teachers and lack of in-service training, low of parent participation in kindergartens activities and very limited and insignificant supportive services of government to kindergartens. Conclusively, the status of preschool education was no implemented and found as pointed out in the national policy and regional standards. Hence, updating the curriculum supplying essential equipment and materials providing in-service training, strengthening the bond between parents and kindergartens, rendering necessary supportive services, and follow up by pertinent bodies to improve the status of preschool education in. kindergartens were suggested.

Similarly, Fedlu (2018) conducted research on the implementation and challenges of the policy set for early childhood care and education in Addis Ababa; and found out that; ECCE policy emphasized only on access. In the majority of the center's facilities were not adequate and teaching process didn’t centralize children with special needs, student textbook was unavailable, majority of teachers were below diploma level, how PTA organized varies from KG to KG, Health and Nutrition of children were not given attention, the annual school program terminates in two terms, majority of the centers’ site was not suitable. The gap here is that the researcher drew the conclusion from Addis Abeba which represents only urban areas and he didn’t consider the policy implementation of rural areas regarding ECCE.

2.8. Major Components of ECCE Policy Implementation Analysis

The major components of pre-primary school policy guideline taken from the policy documents (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010) are presented as follows:

1. Target Group or Beneficiaries of pre-primary school Program

- Targets children are from age’s four to six.
- Attention is given to vulnerable children
- Priority is given to children with special needs

2. The physical environment of pre-primary school

- The pre-primary school is physically safe and free from garbage sites;
- Have adequate latrine service;
- Have adequate water supply;
- Adequate space in the classroom; and
- Adequate size of the school compound.

3. Learning materials that should be available in the pre-primary school

- Stimulating learning materials such as puzzles, riddle and guessing games, geometrical shapes, stories, fairy tales, should be available;
- The classrooms and their walls should be equipped with learning materials and visuals rich in color and textures; and
- There should be outdoor game equipment that is developmentally appropriate (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

4. The Program of different activities in the pre-primary school

- Teachers prepare and use a daily lesson plan;
- Pre-school programs run for three terms in a year; and
- Adequate time should be scheduled for play, discovery, and rest (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

5. Material and content of pre-primary school curriculum

- Teacher guidebook should be readily available to all teachers;
- Curriculum materials should be government-approved;
- The material should be adapted to the local context;
- The content of the curriculum should be developmentally appropriate; and
- The curriculum should emphasize different aspects of child development (MoE, MoH,and MoWA, 2010).

6. Learning methodology in the pre-primary school

- Child-centered approach;
- Facilitating group setting to help children share experience;
- Supporting and encouraging children effort in the process of learning;
- mainly play-based teaching approach; and
- Utilization of different teaching aids in the classroom (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

7. Assessment of children in the pre-primary school

- Assessment should be continuous using appropriate methods;
- It should not be used as a basis for promotion and encouragement; and
- The result should be communicated to parents (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

8. Main and assistant teachers in the pre-primary school

- Teachers should be certified with the preschool teaching profession;
- ECCE caregiver is assigned for both all classes;
- Caregivers should complete grade 8 with a health and nutrition assistant certificate; and
- The class size should be 30 for age (4-5) and 40 for age (5-6). Or on average (35) (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

9. Participation of parents and communities in the pre-primary school

- Parents and teacher regularly share information on the child’s progress;
- Regular PTA meetings should be held within the year;
- Information about the home environment of children should be made available to the teacher; and

- There should be a Collaboration community-school (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010).

10. Health and nutrition service in the pre-primary school

- Health workers provide regular health check-up for children and awareness for all staffs;
- A growth monitoring chart is used to follow up the change of children;
- There should be first aid service for children whenever they need; and
- Feeding should be done in a hygienic and clean environment.

11. Monitoring the pre-primary school program

- The Ministry of Education is the leading and responsible ministry for pre-school program; and
- Regular monitoring of pre-schools should be conducted.
- There should be a task force / technical committee at all levels;
- There should be a highly qualified focal person as coordinator of the program at all level; and
- There should be an ECCE expertise center at a national level.
- The three ministries (education, health, and women affairs) work together; MoE is the coordinator of the program, and MoE is the coordinator Pre-primary education program.

2.9. Conceptual Framework of the Study

In the 2010 ECCE policy guideline for pre-primary schools (4 to 6+ years), there are 11 major components including target group, physical environment, learning materials and equipment’s, scheduling activities, the content of the curriculum, teaching and learning methodology, assessment, human resource, the participation of parents and communities, health and nutrition, and monitoring and supervision. This paper, through ECCE policy implementation analysis, critically examines these major areas of the policy guideline. Issues associated with policy implementation, the involvement of responsible stakeholders, and the impeding factors in the implementation of the ECCE policy outlined in the ECCE policy framework were investigated.

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Figure 1: Conceptual Framework of the Study

3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

This chapter presents various issues related to the research method that has been employed and the rationale for using them in this study. The issues include research site, research design, sources of data, sampling procedures, data collection procedure and instruments, method of data analysis, and ethical considerations.

3.1. Description of the Study Area

This study was carried out in Oromia Regional State North Shoa Zone, Abichu Gnea Woreda that is located 143 km from Addis Ababa in the North direction. The area under study was selected because it is the working area of the researcher and that made the process of data collection more conducive. Besides, the selected Woreda would have relatively better facilities, experiences, and accessibility than the other Woredas which were not supported by the Education for Sustainable Development program regarding pre­primary education. Moreover, some researchers were conducted at the different parts of the country about ECCE but, there was no previous research conducted in this Woreda regarding ECCE. Hence, the researcher decided to conduct an analytical study on the government pre-primary schools which were attached to primary schools in this particular area.

3.2. Research Design

The major purpose of this study was to analyze the policy implementation ofECCE against the 2010 policy document at Abichu Gnea Woreda. In order to meet this purpose, an exploratory sequential mixed method design was used. The exploratory sequential mixed method design is a mixed research approach; pragmatist view of the research paradigm and it is a type of design in which qualitative data are collected, analyzed and quantitative data are also collected in follow up, analyzed separately, and then interpreted. This mixed- methods study addressed the analysis of policy implementation and challenges of early childhood education as an appropriate methodology since it could provide more comprehensive and complete answers to the basic research questions, going beyond the limitations of a single approach.

Accordingly, the first phase of this study was a qualitative exploration of ECCE policy implementation (practice) and involvements of responsible stakeholders for which qualitative data were collected through interview, observation, and document review. Findings generated from the qualitative study informed the development of a questionnaire that was used to collect data from a PPE teachers, school principals and school supervisors of sampled PPSs. Besides, the second phase of this study was a quantitative description of key impeding factors during the implementation of ECCE policy based on the findings generated from the initial qualitative phase of the study.

Generally, the study employed a mixed research approach where both qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods and analysis were used. Hence, the researcher was employed the mixed research approach to expand a thorough understanding and to triangulate findings from different data sources that were gathered sequentially. In line with this, Creswell (2009) argued that combining qualitative and quantitative methods in educational and social research is a better approach. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods can capitalize on the strength of each approach and offset its different limitations. It could also provide more comprehensive and complete answers to the basic research questions, going beyond the limitations of a single approach.

3.3. Sources ofData

3.3.1. PrimarySourcesofData

The primary sources of data for the study consisted of pre-primary school teachers, principals, parents, school supervisors, WEO experts, OEB experts, and MoE experts.

3.3.2. SecondarySourcesofData

On the other hand, for the secondary sources of data, the minimum standard stated in the 2010 ECCE policy guideline, and Regional Pre Primary Education Standard guidelines were used as the cornerstone of the reference of information for the study. Besides, in this study, ESDP IV, ESDP V, instructional materials, children’s attendance records, and teachers' profiles were the other essential sources of data.

3.4. Population, Samples and Sampling Techniques

There were 55 government Pre-primary schools attached to primary schools in Abichu Gnea Woreda. These schools were arranged under 10 school clusters. By using each cluster as strata, out of 55 government pre-primary schools, to have a representative from each cluster, 10 pre-primary schools meaning one pre-primary school from each cluster were selected through a simple random sampling technique. In the sampled pre-primary schools, there were 21 pre-primary education teachers. From them, 10 teachers were selected for an interview through a purposive sampling technique. Besides, one expert from MoE, one expert from REB, and one expert from WEO were included for the interview using a purposive sampling method due to their vast experience in the area. For the interview, from sampled pre-primary schools, all 10 school principals were included through an availability sampling technique. Besides, from the total members of PTA of sampled pre-primary schools, to get reliable data from parents, 10 parents who have at least a child in the respective pre-primary school were purposively selected for interview. On the other hand, for the questionnaire, all available 21 teachers, all 10 school principals, and all 10 school supervisors in the selected pre-primary schools were included through the availability sampling technique. Overall, 33 numbers of informants for an interview and 41 informants for the questionnaire were included in this study.

Table 1: Target population, sample and sampling technique

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3.5. Data Collection Instruments

3.5.1. Interview

Most people are more willing to talk than to write. The key informant interview method enables researchers to explore in-depth understandings, facilitate the free exchange of ideas, and lends itself to acquire more queries that are complex and attaining detailed responses. The informants have firsthand knowledge and experience and are, therefore, best placed to comment on problems (Carl et al., 2004). Thus, an interview was used to obtain in-depth and detailed information from the participants.

Accordingly, for interview, questions that were related to the implementation of the 2010 ECCE policy guidelines for preschools (4 to 6+) which include regarding target group, physical environment, learning materials and equipment’s, scheduling activities, the content of the curriculum, teaching and learning methodology, assessment, human resource, the participation of parents and communities, health and nutrition, monitoring and supervision, regarding challenges’ structure of the program, management of the ECCE program, partners’ role and roles of government were developed by the researcher.

The interview was held with the MoE, REB, and WEO experts at their offices, with ECCE teachers, principals, and parents at pre-primary schools. For MoE, REB, and WEO, the same interview guide was used in order to cross-check the trustworthiness of information obtained for the study. Besides, for pre-primary school principals and teachers, the same interview guide was used. Another type of interview questions was prepared and used for parents accordingly. With the WEO, pre-primary school principals, teachers, and parents the interviews were conducted at two various times with locally appropriate language including Amharic and Afan Oromo based on the interest of interviewees and documented by an audiotape recorder. With the MoE and REB, the interview was conducted once.

3.5.2. Observation

Each sampled pre-primary school outdoors materials and space including the appropriateness of place were taken into consideration. Furthermore, attention was paid to whether the school compound had enough space/field to play or not, whether the school had enough latrines or not, whether the school had enough water supply or not, the accessibilities of resting and feeding room, whether the wall of classroom was equipped with teaching aids or not and the availabilities of basic outdoor play equipment such as balance, merry go round, swings, slides, ladders, and locally made outdoor games. Besides, indoors learning materials including exploratory materials (puzzles, matching games, playing cards, etc.), various books, classroom space, whether the classroom had enough light or not, and the teaching-learning process in the classroom was observed. The observation was conducted for one hour in each sampled school at two various periods by preparing the details of the observation checklist that enabled a researcher to have a good view of all possible dimensions of sampled pre-primary schools. The observation checklist was prepared by the researcher.

3.5.3. Document Review

Document sources serve as a useful tool in yielding information that is important in explaining social or educational practices. Rooted in this, to ensure how comparable and reliable the data collected through the aforementioned methods from the research site, and hence to make triangulation/cross-checking, document review yet found to be another means of data collection. Related issues with the research problems of this study were reviewed in the policy materials ESDP IV, instructional materials, children’s attendance records, and teachers' profiles were reviewed. To examine the exposure of children to pre­primary school before they entered grade one, the documented attendance of pre-primary schools and grade one attendance of each year starting from 2017 were reviewed.

3.5.4. Questionnaire

Since the study was conducted through exploratory mixed-method design, findings generated from the qualitative study informed the development of a questionnaire. Consequently, for the questionnaire, questions that were related to the key impeding factors in ECCE policy implementation were developed by the researcher. The type of questions included was closed-ended items and only one open-ended question. Accordingly, the format for items was based on a Likert scale. The Likert scale was valued as strongly agree (5), agree (4), neutral (3), disagree (2), and strongly disagree (1). For informants (teachers, school principals, and school supervisors), the same questionnaires were prepared and used in order to cross-check the trustworthiness of information obtained for the study. The questionnaire was structured into two main parts. The first part included demographic questions; while the second part included questions that were related to the key impeding factors in ECCE policy implementation.

3.6. The Validity and Reliability of Instruments

The instruments for data collection were initially developed based on the qualitative result of the current study and review of related literature in order to achieve its validity in securing relevant information for the study. The instruments which were prepared in the English language were given to experts in English so as to check the grammatical clarity of the items. Then, it was shown to the advisor in order to comment on their appropriateness to gather relevant information for the research. Certain modifications and amendments were made based on the comments obtained from the advisor. After this, the questionnaires were translated into Afan Oromo.

In order to check the reliability of the instruments, the pilot test was carried out in two selected pre-primary schools. Then, the times were seen carefully to check if they needed any modifications. To this end, four questions from the questionnaires were modified, two were cancelled and one new question was added. After making the necessary modifications, the instruments were retyped and administered.

3.7. Data Collection Procedure

Before collecting the data, the researcher explained his mission and the purpose of the research to the respondents of the study. After permission was secured, the researcher arranged the time and place to get the participants with the school principals. Participants were informed about the objective of the study and asked to participate as scheduled.

In the first phase, qualitative data was collected. Accordingly, the required data were collected step by step through prepared interview guides, observation checklists, and document review on the basis of a previously organized pertinent literature review so as to get the necessary information. The interview guide was semi-structured, accordingly, other important questions were generated during the interview and leading questions were introduced ahead of the scheduled time. Ample time was allowed to satisfactorily probe the issue. The recordings of interviews on tape were performed since it was convenient and obviate the necessity of writing during the interview, which may be distracting to both the interviewer and subject (Best and Kahn, 2006).

The observation was made according to the checklists prepared in advance. Therefore, an observation was conducted in both the classrooms and outdoor play areas that supplemented the interviews and assisted comparisons with the standard adopted in the region.

After the qualitative data were collected and analyzed, the quantitative data were gathered to substantiate findings from qualitative data sources which were conducted through interviews and observations. This quantitative data could help the researcher to identify the key impeding factors in ECCE policy implementation.

3.8. Method of Data Analysis

The audio-recorded interviews were transcribed manually. The relevant portion of the interview was transcribed and summarized since transcribing every word, exclamation, or pause that occurred in the interview was not needed (Lofland and Lofland, 1995).

Since the study was conducted through exploratory mixed-method design, the qualitative data were collected and analyzed first. Accordingly, collected data through interviews, observation, and document review were analyzed by using a cross-case data analysis method. The cross-case analysis used was variably oriented in which variables were compared across the sampled pre-primary schools. Hence this section attempts to answer the first and second research questions of this study. The cross-case analysis is a method that facilitates the comparison of commonalities and differences in the events, activities, and processes that are the units of analyses in case studies. Cross-case analysis enhances researchers' capacities to understand how relationships may exist among discrete cases, accumulate knowledge from the original case, refine and develop concepts, and build or test a theory. Furthermore, cross-case analysis allows the researcher to compare cases from one or more settings, communities, or groups. This provides opportunities to learn from different cases and gather critical evidence to modify policy (Baxter, 2008). Hence cross­case analysis was employed in which the sampled pre-primary schools were compared in the areas they suggest the same action of implementation, and where they differ.

Accordingly, pertaining to observation, after the end of each session, the researcher wrote detailed notes of direct observation based on the checklists as soon as possible. The researcher recorded the major activities, facilities, and general situation form a strong basis for analysis and interpretation of collected data.

After the qualitative data were collected and analyzed, the questionnaire was administered and sorted out by using SPSS (statistical packages for social science version 20). To identify the response of the majority ranks and mean ranks were used; and this section aimed to answer the third research question of this study. To determine the mean rank deference of informants (teachers, school principals, and school supervisors) a Kruskal Wallis H test analytical tool was used. The Kruskal Wallis test is a nonparametric statistical test that assesses the differences among three or more independently sampled groups on a single, none normally distributed continuous variable. None normally distributed data (e.g., ordinal or rank data) are suitable for the Kruskal Wallis test and it is an alternative to the One Way ANOVA when the assumptions for ANOVA aren’t met (Kruskal and Wallis, 1952). Besides, the demographic characteristics of respondents were analyzed by using percentage and frequency distribution.

Generally, the data obtained through a semi-structured interview guide, observation guide, and document review were presented and analyzed through qualitative methods according to pre-primary school implementation domains. Themes and sub-themes were generated as the analysis could progress. Finally, the quantitative data were analyzed by quantitative analyzing tools.

3.9. Ethical Considerations

Research involves collecting data from people, about people (Punch, 2005, as cited in Creswell, 2009, p.132). Writing about these anticipated ethical issues is required in making an argument for a study as well as being an important topic in the format for proposals. Researchers need to protect their research participants; develop a trust with them; promote the integrity of research; guard against misconduct and impropriety that might reflect on their organizations or institutions; and cope with new, challenging problems (Israel and Hay, 2006, as cited in Creswell, 2009, p.132).

Ethical considerations can take various forms depending on the nature of particular research activities. In this study, the researcher tried his best to meet ethical considerations, took appropriate steps, for instance, the researcher took formal permission from the university regarding undertaking data collection and he adhered to the ethical form 30 provided by the university. Moreover, the researcher took formal permission and approval of respondents for taking part in this data collection activity and no force or compulsion was posted on any respondent for responding to the interview. The purpose of this study was conveyed to all participants and the anonymous nature of this study was also maintained throughout research so that the respondents responded with ease without any fear of implications.

4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

This chapter deals with the presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data. Based on the nature of the research questions and data collected, both qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis were used. The study was conducted by categorizing it into ECCE policy implementation, the involvement of responsible stakeholders in ECCE policy implementation, and challenges encountered during ECCE policy implementation. Therefore, next to the demographic characteristics of respondents, in the first part of this section, an analysis of ECCE policy implementation is presented. In the second and third part of this section, analyses of data regarding taking part of responsible stakeholders in ECCE policy implementation and impeding factors during the implementation of ECCE are discussed respectively.

4.1. Demographic Characteristics of Participants

In the interview and questionnaire, factual items that were asked for the identification of sex, age, educational standard, and professional experience, and the like were made. The results are in the table below.

Table 2: Demographic characteristics of parents who were interviewed

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As shown in Table 2, the total number of parent participants for the study was 10 (100%). Among them 7 (70%) were male and 3 (30%) were female. With regard to parent respondents’ age, 1 (10%) of the parent was between 24-27 years. Moreover, 2 (20%) of parents belong to the age group 24-27. On the other hand, 2 (20%) of parents belong to the age group 28-32. The remaining 5 (50%) of parents belong to the age of38 and above.

Table 3: Demographic characteristics of PPE teachers, school principals, and school supervisors

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As shown in Table 2, the total number of pre-primary education teachers, school principals, and school supervisors who participated in the study were 41 (100%). Among them 31 (75.6%) were male and 10 (24.4%) were female. Pre-primary education teachers were 12 (57.1%) males and 9 (42.9%) females; School principals were 9 (90%) male and 1 (10%) female; all 10 (100%) school supervisors were male. As indicated in the above table 2, since most of the pre-primary teachers, principals, and supervisors were males. This is contrary to the region's standards that the standard adopted in the region (OEB, 2012, p.29), indicates not only the preference of female teachers but also principals and caregivers also preferably females that would be serving in the pre-primary school education. It also appears that female teachers can play motherly roles in teaching children in pre-primary schools.

Besides, Aggrawal (1996) cited in Nigussie (2011), confirms that there is a need to entrust the education at the pre-primary level to women teachers who are considered to be more suited to the task of instruction at this stage. Based on Aggrawal’s (1996) ideas, it would be possible to infer that being male teachers seems to have some negative influence on children's learning, for the fact that female teachers deal with young children with their soft and motherly affection.

Concerning respondents’ age, 12 (57.1%) of pre-primary education teachers were between 18-23 years. Moreover, 9 (42.7%) of pre-primary education teachers, 1 (10%) of school principals, and 1 (10%) of parents belong to the age group 24-27. On the other hand, 4 (40%) of school principals and 2 (20%) of school supervisors belonged to the age group 28-32. On the other hand, 3 (30%) of school principals and 7 (30%) of school supervisors were from the age group of 33-37. The age of 2 (20%) school principals and 1 (10%) school supervisor was 38 and above. The table indicates that 21 (100%) of pre-primary education teachers were below age 28. None of the respondents was below eighteen years. This depicts that teachers in the studied area had an active working age. Since the majority of pre-primary education teachers are young if they get the appropriate technical support and onjob training there exists a high potential.

Although it requires another study to exactly know the impact of the age of teachers on such a program, certain evidence shows that children are highly interested in adults to express their emotions-needs, fears, problems, feelings, and the like. Thus, it could be possible to bring to a close that the status of the age of teachers in most of the studied pre­primary schools seems beneficial to their children. Concerning school principals and school supervisors, the table indicates that 8 (80 %) of principals were below the age of 37and 9 (90%) of school supervisors were below the age of 37. Therefore, the majority of them were younger people and this has a positive impact on the effectiveness of the position they were assigned.

Concerning respondents’ academic qualifications, 11 (52.4%) of pre-primary education teachers were below certificate level while 9 (42.9%) of them were PPE certificate holders. From all interview respondents of pre-primary education teachers, only 1 (4.7%) was not PPE diploma holder. Regarding school principals and supervisors, 7 (70%) of school principals were diploma holders while the remaining 3 (30%) principals and 10 (100%) of supervisors were degree holders.

The table shows that the majority of pre-primary education teachers were below the standard and this implies that pre-primary education teachers need training support. A study conducted by Decker and Decker (1988) revealed that the quality of teachers determines to a high degree the excellence of the ECCE program. One of the requirements is that teachers should meet at least minimal educational standards for their specific

Conversely, all 21 (100%) of the teachers who are working in government pre-primary education have not qualified in relation to the standard adopted in the region which requires a minimum of PPE diploma holders (OEB, 2012, p. 31). Therefore, it is not only inadequate to accomplish the overall tasks in PPE but also might have a negative or irreversible impact on children's learning as well as overall development. WEO experts and principals responded that even refresher courses are not allowed to teachers that could satisfy in terms of their preparation. It was also observed a reflection of disorganized kinds of activities in the classrooms. It was mostly due to a lack of professional competency. Regarding this, UNESCO (1992) stated that the main instrument for the proper execution of ECCE is the teachers. Exploration of the intellectual ability and creativity of the teachers in the training sessions and of the students in the classrooms was the main task of any education program. Hence, remaining silent on the qualification of teachers in the preschools has complicated the situation.

Regarding work experience, 12 (57.1%) of pre-primary education teachers were below two years while 9 (42.9%) of them belonged to the age group 2-4years. This shows the experience of almost all of them belong to the group below 5 years. Some of the evidence shows that the better experience of teachers determines to a high degree the excellence of the ECCE program. In fact, essential knowledge and skills to be effective and competent in educating children are built through practice. Seefeldet (1973) cited in Nigussie (2011) indicates that years of prior teaching experience are related to the cognitive gain and better adjustment of children in the PPE. However, the great majority of teachers currently working in the studied area have no better work experience in teaching young children. Concerning school principals and supervisors, 3 (30%) of principals and 1 (10) supervisors were between 5-7 years while 7 (70%) of principals and 9 (90%) of supervisors belong to 8 years and above. This shows the experience of the school principals and supervisors were above 8 years. This in turn indicates the majority of them had average experience.

Table 4: Demographic characteristics ofEducation Officials

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 4 above portrays that experts of the Ministry of Education and Woreda education office were male respondents while an expert from Education Bureau was the lone female respondent. Concerning the age of respondents, none of them belonged to the age group below 37 years. All of the experts in the Woreda, in the Education Bureau, and the Ministry ofEducation were above 38. In general, all respondents 3 (100%) were above38. Hence, almost all of the total respondents were adult people and this shows they are matured enough to carry out their responsibility.

Regarding academic qualification, the above table shows that all respondents from Woreda, from REB and MoE experts, were the first-degree holders. This shows experts at the office level were better qualified than teachers and principals. Concerning work experience of all respondents from Woreda, from REB and MoE had an experience of more than eight years. This shows the majority of them were better experienced than teachers.

4.2. ECCE Policy Implementation

Under this section, the result of the ECCE policy implementation analysis is presented. Questions were developed based on Policy guidelines to assess the ECCE implementation. Respondents were PPE teachers, school principals, education officials’ experts, and parents. Data were collected through the interview from the aforementioned respondents. Besides, observation and document analysis were conducted in each sampled pre-primary school to triangulate with data obtained through interviews. The implementation analysis was conducted through cross-case analysis in which the sampled pre-primary schools were compared in the areas they suggest the same action of implementation, and where they differ. The cross-case analysis used was variably oriented in which variables were compared across the sampled pre-primary schools. Hence this section attempts to answer the first and second research question of this study.

4.2.1. Target Group or Beneficiaries of Pre-Primary School Program

One of the concerns of this study was to examine the target group or beneficiaries in PPE attached to government primary schools. Respondents were asked about the target group or beneficiaries of PPE in terms of age, given priority for vulnerable children, and children with special needs. Regarding this issue, there were no varied ideas among respondents. Although there was no evidence that helps to check the exact age of pre-primary students, the given response indicates that the target groups were children who belong to the age group of 4-6.

Most principals responded as they didn’t have a great deal of information and knowledge about pre-school education and care policy. The school principal from primary school-1 said,

In our school, there is no policy documentfor pre-school, we have not been aware that the program is still being incorporated into the education policy, and the pre­school quota given to each schoolfrom WEO in September when we enrol regular students for the academic year. We received an instruction from WEO to enrol children who belong to 4-6 years of age for pre-primary education. We recorded many children in the age group of 4-6. However, they are afew ones who can come to school andattend pre-primary classes (SP, 2020).

In the same way, one of the PPE teacher said,

“... as a preschool teacher, I don't have much knowledge about Early Childhood Care and Education Policy. Not even in school. But we are bringing childrenfrom 4-6years ofage topre-school educationfrom the community.” (PPET, 2020)

The above excerpts show that in selected government primary schools those enrolled for pre-primary education were between the ages of 4-6 years. On the other hand, although there were many children in the age group, there were very few in the numbers who get the benefits from pre-school education. Besides, the researcher noticed during the observation that most of the students enrolled in pre-school were between the ages of 4-6. Similarly, the student attendance record of each sampled school indicates that there were 4, 5, and 6- year-old students enrolled for pre-primary education. In sum, responses from all data sources revealed that admission of children was from age 4-6

On the other hand, some respondents answered that even though enrolment was made based on age criteria, there were some parents who did not want to reveal the accurate age of their children because there were some parents who thought children would start school at age 7; and some parents used their children who are found in the age range of pre­primary education to look after their younger children. Besides, according to respondents’ responses, there were also parents who used their children in the age of 4-6 to look after sheep and cattle.

According to the ECCE policy guideline, the target group for pre-primary schools should be children from age’s four to six (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010). Hence, even though there is no evidence showing actual students’ age verification, the students enrolled are still the same age as described in the ECCE policy document. Regarding this issue, literature shows that many countries in Africa have almost similar starting ages which range from age three to five (AU outlook on Education, 2014). However, in Ethiopia for delivering this service the age is from 4 to 6. Nevertheless, most of the respondents commented that identifying appropriate age only by looking at the physical status was very difficult. And this sometimes made the registration process complex.

Concerning vulnerable and students with special needs, ECCE policy guidelines revealed that attention should be paid to vulnerable children, and priority should be given to children with special needs (MoE, MoH, and MoWA, 2010). However, regarding priority for children with special needs, an interview conducted with the pre-primary school teachers and principals respondents showed that the issue of this group of children was not given due attention. They further explained that buildings, water supply, toilet services, and learning materials available didn’t take the needs of this group of children into account; there was no trained expert on special needs.

Since respondents did not have a lot of awareness regarding this issue, the researcher decided to use data obtained through observation for the analysis. Accordingly, it was found that there was no pre-primary school that provided the support needed for children with special needs. Even the respondents of selected pre-primary schools were not aware of the benefits of special needs education. They perceived that a special needs education is needed only for children who have a visible physical impairment. It is obvious that before support provision for students with special needs, identification and screening should be conducted. However, there was no screening and identification service for students with special needs. Besides, the buildings of the pre-primary schools were inconsiderate of the need of these children. Generally, the study showed that the practice of giving priority to these groups of children was minimal.

Concerning vulnerable children /children from poor families, interview results of some principals indicated that some support was provided to them. The school principal from primary school-8 said,

We offer free educational materials to children from poor families. NGO supports us with a variety of educational materials and we prioritize children from poor families. The NGO named after Education for Sustainable Development has supported us 'with a variety of educational materials, including literacy material, bag, basin (lunch container), and otherplay materials fSP, 2020).

However, schools that were supported by NGOs are very few. There is no priority given to children from poor families in the pre-primary schools that were not supported by NGOs. To confirm this, a school principal from primary school-5 said,

We only served children who can enrol in preschool. There was no priority group in our school. Because we don't have other additional budget support. So we request the families to send their children 'with the necessary learning materials. Otherwise, we cannot support children who come from poor families exclusively. There is a small budget subsidy thatflows from the Woreda Education Office, but we use itfor all students. (SP, 2020)

In general, the information gathered through the interview shows that though the ECCE program in the Government elementary school was designed to target children of poor families, the education support service was problematic. Regarding this, literature states that the main reason to expand the ECCE program is to support children from poor families (UNICEF, 2005). Generally, the response from the interview and observation indicated that there was no satisfactory effort to support children from poor families.

Hence, it would be possible to conclude that the ECCE policy implementation has a good implementation regarding enrolling children from 4-6 years of age. However, it is poorly implemented in almost all of the studied areas regarding providing priority for vulnerable children and children with special needs.

4.2.2. The Physical Environment of Pre-Primary School

In order to examine, the adequacy of different issues related to the physical environment of pre-primary schools, the researcher undertook detailed observation by using observation checklists. To determine the PPSs conditions (Clearly evident, partially evident, and needs attention), the observation tool scoring rubric was prepared for each item and used. On the other hand, targeted groups were interviewed to judge the situation of their PPS. The results are presented and analyzed as follows.

Table 5:Physical Environment and Basic Facilities in Pre-Primary Schools

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

As observation results have shown from the above table 7, in most PPSs adequate classroom space was not provided. In nine pre-primary schools, outdoor space noticed as “needs attention”. Besides, there was only 1(10%) pre-primary school that had a physically safe environment whereas a partially physically safe environment was noticed in 3 (30%) pre-primary schools; and the remaining 6 (60%) pre-primary schools were noticed as having needed attention. On the other hand, there were four pre-primary that have enough latrines; in two pre-primary schools there were commonly used latrines with other primary school students and the remaining four were observed “needs attention” to the extent of a minimal stated standard of ECCE policy guideline in all studied PPSs. Concerning accessibility of water, only one pre-primary school had enough water supplies whereas the remaining nine pre-primary schools were noticed as “needs attention”. However, all pre-primary schools were free from garbage sites and the location of PPSs were away from the crowded/traffic areas, and the PPSs site that is a raised area, dry as well as have usual drainage free from water logging was noticed.

Concerning this, school principals were interviewed and explained the reason for the inadequacy of outdoor space and playground provided per child, was due to the fact that the situate of government primary schools are inappropriate for the practice of pre-primary schools because the schools were built primarily for the purpose of primary education and there were no enough spaces to cover with fence exclusively. Similarly, the most studied pre-primary school's safety conditions were at risk for broken parts, end edges, woods, uncovered fence/edged sheet, and harsh materials were found occupying many spaces; moreover, the level of the ground was not smooth and safe for children. Besides, children were being injured since they were in the same gateway, same leave, same compound, same latrines, and the like with other older regular students that could expose kids to sudden danger. Remarkably, PPS-4 relatively observed "partially evident" in all of its outdoor conditions. As the school principal elucidated, the main reason for this was due to good cooperation with concerned bodies- NGOs and private owners to provide them accordingly. However, inadequate conditions were mainly due to financial problems.

Regarding this issue, the ECCE policy guideline revealed that pre-primary schools should be physically safe and free from garbage sites; pre-primary schools should have adequate latrine service; pre-primary schools should have adequate water supply; pre-primary schools should have adequate space in the classroom; and adequate size of the school compound (MoE, MoH and MoWA, 2010). As well, OEB (2012), states play needs to be the main medium of instruction in PPSs and suggests an adequate and safe area to enhance the development of all children.

Besides, Tovey (2007) revealed that the outdoor and indoor space and playgrounds can provide many play possibilities for pre-primary school students. Children need space where they can play with others but also smaller, quiet spaces for their own solitary activity, providing opportunities for autonomy and independence but also a secure base to which they can return or retreat, as and when necessary. Indoor and outdoor places are both important. Children seek adventure and challenge in their play outdoors; they explore places and enjoy transforming spaces to create imaginary worlds. The indoor space should be large enough to accommodate a desirable number of children.

Moreover, according to Clayton and Forton (2001), the way the physical environment is designed and configured influences how children feel, act and behave. The physical environment allows growth and development through activities and materials in defined play areas. Room arrangement for play activity plays an important role in students’ social and language interactions. Poorly designed classrooms can cause disruptions and negative social interactions among students and/or between students and the teacher. For example, having the reading and writing center next to the music area would cause disruptions among children who are trying to concentrate on the skill of writing. Students can become frustrated when they do not have an organized environment to call their own

Similarly, as Montessori (1936) cited in Morrison (2011) acknowledged that the availabilities of ordered and enough space in the external environment help children to organize their often-chaotic perceptions of the outside world and build a sense of predictability and security. Further, adequate and safe playgrounds provide more opportunities for children to jump, run, climb, roll, and swing that promotes the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of children. On the contrary, the space that is crowded and lacks safety limits would create tensions, injury, and foster social aggressions (Garrick, 2004).

Conversely, when respondent teachers were asked about the sufficiency of out-door and indoor space environments, both teachers in PPS-10 rolled their eyes and one of them said, "Look around this room! These children do not go five minutes without hurting each other. As you observed nothing is adequate we always guard them rather than maintain playing. We really have a lot of problems!" The researcher again asked why they thought the children acted this way. The teachers said that they thought the children were not interested in doing any activities since nothing is adequate.

Therefore, it would be possible to conclude that the EECE policy implementation has resulted in creating spaces free from garbage sites. However, it has a very low implementation in almost all of the studied area regarding providing enough indoor and outdoor space, enough latrine service, and enough water supplies. Besides, its safety conditions were found to be very inadequate that would limit children's possibilities for play and expose them to hazard as well as fright.

4.2.3. In and Out-door Play and Learning Materials in the Pre-Primary Schools

To identify the adequacy of the classroom and outdoor materials and equipment, as well as its organization in the pre-primary schools, the researcher undertook detailed observation by using observation checklists and by incorporating pertinent items with options from which to judge (clearly evident, partially evident, and needs attention). On the other hand, respondents were interviewed. The results are presented and analyzed as follows.

4.2.3.1. In-door Materials and Their Arrangements

Table 6: Indoor Conditions of Each Sampled Pre-Primary School

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[...]

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Details

Title
Early Childhood Care and Education Policy Implementation. An Analysis of Abichu Gnea Woreda
College
Haramaya University
Course
Special Needs and Inclusive Education
Grade
4.00
Author
Year
2020
Pages
151
Catalog Number
V1138527
ISBN (eBook)
9783346514356
ISBN (Book)
9783346514363
Language
English
Tags
early, childhood, care, education, policy, implementation, analysis, abichu, gnea, woreda
Quote paper
Misahun Shumetu (Author), 2020, Early Childhood Care and Education Policy Implementation. An Analysis of Abichu Gnea Woreda, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1138527

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