Early childhood education in Aotearoa in a post-Covid world





early childhood education policy, neoliberalism, Covid-19, participatory democracy


This article draws on recent research on the impact of Covid-19 on the early childhood education (ECE) sector in Aotearoa. It discusses the innovative ways that ECE services found to communicate with families and children and maintain an education programme during lockdowns, the essential role they played in childcare for children of essential workers, and the approaches some took to “working in solidarity” with children, families, and community. The article discusses crucial issues that need attention at policy and organisational levels. These include new issues that arose during lockdowns, and enduring issues that have intensified. The consequences of three decades of neoliberalism, privatisation and marketisation are briefly discussed and a reimagined vision is put forward.


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Author Biography

Linda Mitchell, University of Waikato

Linda Mitchell is professor of education at the University of Waikato. Her current research focuses on constructs of belonging for refugee and immigrant families and the role of early childhood education in supporting bicultural belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand. A longstanding research interest is in the damaging impact of neoliberalism, marketisation and privatisation on early childhood education and the need for alternative policy frameworks. She argues for early childhood centres to be conceptualised as public services, that promote principles of social justice, respect for rights and an aim to support children growing up in a democracy.


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