Pre-school education in comparative perspective with special reference to England and Libya
There is a great demand for pre-school education in most countries of the world, but while pre-school education has long received only modest consideration within the educationally developed world, it has attracted even less consideration than other levels of schooling especially in the developing countries. There is still a danger that early childhood education may continue to be viewed as something of a luxury. Nonetheless, the past few decades have witnessed much greater interest in pre-school education. Among the reasons for this growing interest are the new knowledge gained in the sphere of child development and the changes which have taken place in social conditions. Most countries provide some kind of educational opportunities for children below school age, their aims and objectives may differ to a greater or lesser extent from one country to another depending on resources and specific historical, social or religious influences on the way pre-school education has developed, and the way in which different cultures come to view the main aims and objectives of such education. This thesis is based on a combination of empirical and documentary research. Historically, pre-school education seems to have served similar functions despite difference in time and culture. For that reason Libya as a developing country should learn from the mistakes of a developed country as England, as well as from such of her insights as are perhaps capable of being transplanted successfully in Libya. It was thought that a comparative study of views of preschool teachers in two countries with different political, economic, social and ideological systems, would illuminate some current concerns in the field of pre-school education. This study is designed to arrive at criteria development of pre-school education in general and its teacher training dimension in particular, as an essential background for an improvement in the quality of pre-school education in Libya. The findings of the research revealed that there are major problems in pre-school education in Libya centred around diffused aims, centralised administration, a subject centred curriculum, and teacher-centred methods. Low qualifications among teachers following a mediocre calibre of intake, tutors without professional training, lack of guidance services, the overlooked curriculum, much traditional teaching methods and final examinations demanding all combined to render the task of the few keenly interested in developing a Libyan pre-school sector particularly difficult. The over-arching conclusion of this study is that fundamental changes should be introduced throughout Libyan education, and that this in itself requires the development of a pre-school sector. Because the relationship between pre-school education and other levels of education is organic - any change in one part will be reflected on the other parts. The study is divided into three parts. Part A is the context, and consists of three chapters: Chapter 1 gives a brief account of the significance and purpose of this particular study, the scope of the problem, the aims and the methods to be used - both documentary and empirical. Chapters 2 and 3 review the situation of pre-school education in Western Europe and Arabic countries respectively. Part B is the Libyan Dimension: it consists also of three chapters. Chapter 4 traces the development of education in Libya through the various periods of Libya's history. Chapter 5 traces the development of pre-school education in Libya, the influence of the different communities who were settled in the area before Independence on pre-school education. Chapter 6 provides a description and analysis of teacher training and its relationship with pre-school education. Part C is the English Dimension. There are two chapters. Chapter 7 reviews the development of pre-school education from the nineteenth century, including the ideas of leading European reformers and traces the development of nursery education up to the present time. Chapter 8 is concerned with teacher training programmes for teachers and nursery nurses in England and Wales. The final section, Part D, comprises three chapters. Chapter 9 gives a brief description of the two cities where the field studies were conducted, Hull in England and Derna in Libya. It also provides a detailed description of the research design and application in England and Libya. Chapter 11, the final chapter, concerns itself with summarising the study, and also looking towards improvements through a number of recommendations from the author. It is hoped that the thesis will be a valuable document in retrospect, especially to those keen to develop pre-school facilities there.