EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION AND CHALLENGES OF PRESCHOOL TEACHERS IN RURAL INDI
Aim: The Aim of this qualitative study is to contribute to the research on the preschool teacher’s experiences and challenges of curriculum implementation and give the opportunity to teacher’s voices to be heard. Through preschool teacher’s experiences, the study intends to identify patterns of similarity in order to understand the challenges preschool teachers face in implementing curriculum for underprivileged children in rural India. Theory: In order to understand the experiences and challenges faced by preschool teachers, the current study used the Ecologicalsystemstheory by Bronfenbrenner (1979) as it involves the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation between an active growing human being and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the developing person lives, as this process is affected by relations between these settings and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded. Method: The current study used a qualitative research approach as this approach allowed me to interpret the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the early childhood education system in rural India. Moreover, Qualitative research design approximately captured the experiences and perceptions of the participants involved in the study, providing me a deeper understanding of the experience and challenges faced by preschool teachers in Hamirpur district, Himachal Pradesh, India. The data for this study was collected by semi structured interviews of 8 Preschool teachers (Anganwadi workers) from 8 different public preschools (Anganwadi Centers) in Hamirpur district, Himachal Pradesh, India. The analysis follows Conventional content analysis approach based on preschool teacher’s interviews transcriptions. Analysis of data has different stages – arranging the data, coding, reduction of data into themes, categories and presenting the data as a discussion. Results: In the current study, the main finding is that the preschool teachers on the daily basis have to combine a wide range of work tasks, acting as government servants, social workers in the area of public health and pedagogical tasks. Despite their workload and insufficient resources, all the participants unanimously described their working experience as interesting and enriching. For the preschool teachers, working in a public preschool presented a challenge to grow personally and professionally, for instance to become confident public speakers. Also the preschool teachers expressed a sense of belonging in the local community, acting as Frontline workers, which gave them a sense of pride and personal fulfillment. However, the preschool teachers were dissatisfied with the employment conditions, specifically with the honorarium remuneration system. As for the second focal area of the study, a number of challenges were identified. These included large class size, lack of proper facilities, lack of teaching-learning materials, lack of parental involvement and lack of in-service training. The preschool teachers also complained about a heavy administrative work load, specifically the maintenance of records, which restricted the time they could devote to children.