Early childhood education and care (ECEC) for impoverished or marginalized young children requires a concentrated effort between all involved actors and the coordination of their roles in a child’s schooling and educational development. These partnerships, supplemented by improved school access and quality teaching on a local or national level, form the basis of quality ECEC for all children. In order to optimize ECEC and the resources of all partners and participants, a balance must be reached among the educational community itself, Romani families and students, public administrators, social agencies and non-governmental organizations. Although all of the involved professionals and organizations have something to contribute to the preschool educational process, their varying levels of responsibility, commitment, strengths and weaknesses must be taken into account when identifying and clarifying their roles.
Throughout the course of the two-year “A Good Start” (AGS) EU Pilot Project in 16 localities in Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia, AGS worked to establish such partnerships with the goal of providing quality ECEC to disadvantaged communities through well-designed, community-based services. In order to create and maintain these partnerships, the AGS project facilitated the daily communication between children and parents, mediators, teachers, teaching assistants, principals, mayors, school officials, national policymakers and other relevant actors. The project revealed that the best partnerships were established when there was an all-inclusive political-instructional framework, a flexible intercultural educational system which acknowledges and values differences, a project shared among several groups of stakeholders, and a network of measures and professionals organized to accompany students and their families throughout the process of incorporation into the school system.
This guide outlines a road map on how to achieve successful and sustainable partnerships that ensure early childhood education and care for impoverished or marginalized young children. Although each case is different, experience shows that there are certain steps and processes that positively contribute to establishing a basis for building such partnerships:
- Conduct a needs assessment to determine the specific needs of the community;
- Identify potential stakeholders and available resources;
- Join forces and allocate responsibilities among members;
- Establish written agreements to ensure member commitment;
- Clearly define leadership;
- Create partnerships with local and national governments; and
- Establish monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
By following these steps, the participation of Romani children in ECEC can be increased while adding value and quality to the educational process and helping to prevent inequality at school and in society as a whole.
Please find the whole publication in pdf version: ags_partnershipguide