11.1. QUALITY ASSURANCE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL EDUCATION
•1 Responsible bodies
Primary responsibility for the implementation of ECEC rests with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The Department of Child Protection within the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy leads government ECEC efforts. It has staff dedicated to ECEC, sets policies, monitors quality of services, and coordinates across agencies responsible for ECEC services.
The Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) ensures the competencies of the workforce and the relevance of the curriculum. There is a specific Department for pre-school education, a part of the Education Development Bureau which is in charged for pedagogical aspects of work: supervising, counselling, teacher education issues, pedagogical documentation preparation, teacher preparation, their professional development.
A Department of the MOES responsible for overseeing preschool education standards (compliance), ensures laws are implemented, other regulations are upheld and provides quality assurances. In particular, monitoring and evaluation of educational work is not carried out with the same systematicity and consistency as is the case in primary and secondary education. Currently lacks appropriate instruments (process underway to develop these).
•2 Approaches and methods for quality assurance
The current quality assurance system in ECEC includes the sharing of responsibility for quality management across two ministries: the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The process of inspection and compliance with standards to ensure quality in preschool education is also making efforts to establish a specific system and structure. The division of responsibilities for monitoring and evaluation across the two ministries is complicated by ambiguities and overlaps and faces challenges to ensure systematic and appropriate tools as well as better coordination.
Consequently, the preschool education sector has limited data culture for planning and evidence led decision-making. In this respect, there is a need to strengthen the analytical capacity of the ECEC sector in order to allow more effective policy planning and action.
- The State Education Inspectorate is the legal entity responsible for carrying monitoring the pre-school system. The Inspectorate cooperates with the Bureau for the Development of Education, municipal authorities, parent councils and other relevant bodies.
- A director appointed by the Government at the proposal of the Minister of Education and Science heads the State Education Inspectorate. Based on quarterly plans for each inspector, the director prepares a monthly work plan, which also includes a schedule of supervisions by dates and subjects of supervision.
- The State Education Inspectorate oversees the fulfilment of educational standards, quality assurance of education, effectiveness through evaluation of the work of educational institutions, as well as implementation of laws, other regulations and general acts in the field of education.
- State education inspectors perform inspection supervision within the competence of the State Education Inspectorate.
In particular, the State Education Inspectorate supervises:
- existence of conditions for performing the activity in educational institutions;
- realization of the educational process in preschool education;
- special conditions for choosing professional associates and preschool teachers;
- professional and pedagogical development of preschool teachers and taking the professional exam;
- realization of the curricula and other prescribed standards and norms that regulate the educational activity;
- realization of experimental programs in educational institutions;
- keeping pedagogical records and documentation, as well as publishing and using them in preschool education.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is currently working on introducing a new quality system based on the Measuring Early Learning and Quality Outcomes (MELQO) instrument. The adaptation, implementation and systematization of the MELQO as part of this system will provide for the collection of data on which to make evidence-based decisions about ECEC policy and programs. MELQO aims specifically to promote: the feasible, accurate and useful measurement of children’s development and learning at the start of primary schooling; and, the quality of their pre-primary learning environments. MELQO is based on two instruments, MODEL and MELE: the MODEL focuses on assessing child development and learning (including items indexing early literacy, mathematics, executive functioning and socio-emotional development), while the MELE focuses on measuring early learning environments (seven constructs and examples for indexing them including, pedagogy, play, inclusion, personnel, interactions, environment, parental engagement).