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Early Years Educators’ Work in Conflict Areas Essay

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Updated: Nov 19th, 2020

Key Issues in the Community

Maoist rebels initiated a war against the King of Nepal that resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 people including at least 400 children. A country with a small land area, a small population, and an economy that is less than ideal, the premature deaths of the country’s citizens are going to affect national development in a significant manner. Nepal is reeling from the impact of family disintegration. One of the major outcomes of family-breakups as a result of bloody conflict is the existence of a large number of orphaned children (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). According to recent estimates, at least 8000 children are without homes and families (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007).

Nepal is also reeling from the impact of family displacements because the inhabitants of communities were forced to flee to safety. Negative consequences on human resource availability made it difficult to provide for the needs of family members. Also, children suffered from the effects of the traumatizing experiences brought about by armed conflicts. Furthermore, the war effort created serious restrictions on education.

Exhibiting and Actualising Strengths, Capabilities, and Rights: In the Context of Children, Families, and Communities

The Nepalese people exemplified a high degree of actualizing strengths, capabilities, and rights, especially when they tried to reclaim the lives they lost. However, there are times when the strategy that was utilized to get a semblance of a normal life was far from ideal. For example, the tradition of using early marriage was perverted when parents were forced to allow the marriage between a man and a female teenager below the age of 18 (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). In some villages, young females are dressed up like married women to prevent the forcible recruitment of Maoist rebels.

How to Begin Working Effectively with Families and Communities in Many Different Contexts Created by Political Violence and Armed Conflict

Prudence dictates the establishment of learning frameworks and social institutions that help to ensure the safety of educators and the children alike (Powell & Uppal 2012). The Maoist rebellion in Nepal yielded an unexpected gem of a revelation when educators and concerned citizens initiated a campaign called “Children as a Zone of Peace” or CZOP. It was discovered that both rebels and government forces generally understood the value of removing the children from the war equation so that they are not used as pawns or indirect combatants in the war effort (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007).

Practitioners: Key Challenges and Opportunities for Early Years Professionals Working in Conflict-Affected Societies

What Might This Mean for Early Years Educators and Early Years Professionals?

It is difficult to find opportunities and valuable experiences in armed conflicts when viewed from the perspective of early years educators. Wars bring about displacement and mayhem. Children are traumatized by loud explosions, deaths of the loved ones, and the disruption of a certain way of life. However, early years professionals and educators are also in danger of experiencing the same fate.

In the case of Nepal, Maoist rebels and forces loyal to the government did not show any consideration when they took control of schools and learning institutions as a part of their respective battle strategies (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). Thousands of educators were kidnapped to indoctrinate them (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). Thus, it is not hard to imagine the difficulties faced by early years educators when it comes to personal safety and the ability to perform expected duties and responsibilities.

Role of Early Years Educators and Early Years Professionals in Bringing About Freedom, Peace, Social Justice, Equity and Social Inclusion

One can make the argument that in certain corners of the globe, the way people perceive and appreciate the value and importance of children leaves much to be desired (Sivalingam and Dearman 2014). For example, in conflict areas in Africa and the Middle East, children were recruited and transformed into soldiers and assassins (Eichstaedt 2013). In other cases, children were treated as combatants due to the family’s political leanings and affiliations. In the case of Nepal, at least 250 children were arrested and interrogated by state security officials (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). Thus, early years educators must work with the government or international organizations to promote a higher level of understanding as to the best way to treat children.

Helping to Build the Peace

There are grand gestures that early educators may consider in helping to build peace. This includes working with high-profile organizations like UNICEF or state-sponsored agencies. However, early years professionals may consider more practical approaches, such as a drive to reduce conflict within members of a particular community. It has been made clear in numerous studies that displaced children struggled to receive an education.

They were bullied and ridiculed (Henderson 2014). It is not difficult to imagine these children growing up with a lot of resentment and rage. Thus, the cycle of violence is perpetuated. Thus, early educators may come up with a program or strategy that leads to the creation of a relatively ideal learning environment, wherein students learn to respect each other regardless of ethnic background and cultural differences.

Supporting Caregivers in Helping Them Deal with the Effects of Violence in Their Children’s Lives

In a related study about the plight of families affected by Colombia’s drug problems, Martha Arango and her husband Glen Nimnicht established a non-government organization that dealt with the impact of long-term violence on children. In the said case study, it was discovered that “those who were affected by violence and armed conflicts have the greatest power to overcome and heal” (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007, p. 60). In other words, educators must also focus on empowering parents, because they play a critical role in rebuilding the lives of their children (Wells 2015; Boyd and Hirst 2016).

Initiative: Addressing the Effects of War and Armed Conflicts

Facilitating the Participation, Self-Determination and Agency of Children, Families, Communities Facing Oppression, Marginalisation, Exclusion, Injustice, and Inequality

As mentioned earlier, the best approach to enable the seamless participation, self-determination, and agency of affected family members is to establish a framework similar to the CZOP initiative that transformed Nepal’s early year’s education landscape. Nevertheless, there are areas of needs that early educators must focus on without the backing of a major international organization or sympathetic government agencies (Swift 2017).

For example, the main problem with early years education in a war-torn region is not the absence of learning materials or the absence of educators but the lack of confidence and eagerness to go back to school (Tomlinson 2013). Thus, early educators must be able to create immediate and long-lasting impact by addressing the root cause of the problem. First of all, they need to establish the commitment from both sides of the conflict to respect the learning institution’s function as a zone of peace (Kagitcibasi and Britto 2014). After the assurance of safety, the long process of persuading children and families to study within a formal setting begins.

The Best Way to Listen to the Voices of Young Children and Help Them Explore, In a Safe Environment, the Impact of Conflict and Violence in Their Lives

One of the effective ways of dealing with the effects of traumatic experiences is to enable the victims to explore the subject matter and express their feelings regarding the said topic (Allen & Cowdery 2015). One of the best ways to empathize with the children is through active listening, by offering a sympathetic ear to the victims of wars and armed conflict. Also, one of the effective methodologies stems from the recognition of different learning styles and preferences (Drury, Campbell & Miller 2013).

In the case of Nepal, early years educators interpreted feelings and ideas through the sketches and artworks created by school-aged children. For example, a child’s drawing depicting the transformation of the school from a fun and exciting place into a dreaded environment full of guns and violence highlighted the need for creating zones of peace (Nicol and Taplin 2012).

Meeting the Needs of Children and Families in the Context of High and Intense Levels of Violence

Aside from directly addressing the physical and emotional needs of family members, it is also imperative to consider long-term strategies (Rodd 2015). One of the best ways to improve the circumstances of children and families in the context of high and intense levels of violence is to increase the number of educators and social workers in a given area (Miller 2012). This initiative is made possible through the creation of a “resource center” that provides materials and other forms of support to individuals and organizations that were eager to help displaced families and traumatized children (Reardon 2013).

Becoming Effective Advocates for Children Living in Conflict-Affected Societies

In an ideal scenario, early years educators and early years professionals living in affluent countries are taking responsibility in spearheading campaigns directed at enhancing global attention towards war-torn countries or communities. It becomes a sacred duty and not a burdensome task. The desire to help children stems from an instinctive source because it is impossible to teach children without caring for them (Jarvis, George, and Holland 2013).

In the case of Nepal, a breakthrough in the children’s education came into fruition only after the establishment of the CZOP. In this regards, the CZOP was the byproduct of a relentless campaign characterized by the production of pamphlets, booklets, and spearheading discussions designed to attract a national audience and to persuade all stakeholders regarding the importance of embracing the key resolutions of the CZOP (Connolly, Hayden & Levin 2007). It is also important not to underestimate the role of research in any advocacy campaign geared towards helping children living in war zones (Ritzer 2010).

Questions: Regarding Globalisation, Global Influence of Early Years Education, and Implications of Globalisation on Early Childhood Professionals

  1. What is the best way to persuade educators and other stakeholders to take part in helping children that are suffering far away from where they live and work?
  2. Is there a way to leverage an early educator’s global influence?
  3. What are the unexpected impact and outcomes of globalization in the professional lives of early years professionals and educators?

Reference List

Allen, E & Cowdery, G 2015, The exceptional child: inclusion in early childhood education, Cengage Learning, Stamford.

Boyd, D & HIrst N 2016, ‘A perspective from England’, In D Boyd & N Hirst (eds), Understanding early years education across the UK: comparing practice in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Routledge, Abingdon.

Connolly, P, Hayden, J & Levin, D 2007, From conflict to peacebuilding: the power of early childhood initiates, lessons from around the world, World Forum Foundation, Redmond.

Drury, R, Campbell, R & Miller L 2013, Looking at early years education and care, Routledge, Abingdon.

Eichstaedt, P 2013, First kill your family: child soldiers of Uganda, Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago.

Henderson, M 2014, ‘Does bullying really happen in early years?’, in A Brock (ed), The early years reflective practice handbook, Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 306-310.

Jarvis, P, George, J & Holland, W 2013, The early years professional’s complete companion, 2nd ed, Routledge, Abingdon.

Kagitcibasi, C & Britto, P 2014, ‘Interventions: what has worked and why?’, in J Leckman, C Panter-Brick & R Salah (eds), Pathways to peace: the transformative power of children and families, MIT Press, Boston, pp. 305-321.

Miller, L 2012, ‘Professional roles in the early years’, in C Cable, L Miller & G Goodliff (eds), Working with children in the early years, Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 54-61.

Nicol, J & Taplin, J 2012, Understanding the Steiner Waldorf approach: early years education in practice, Routledge, Abingdon.

Powell, J & Uppal, E 2012, Safeguarding babies and young children: a guide for early years professionals, McGraw-Hill Education, Berkshire.

Reardon, D 2013, Achieving early years professional status, SAGE, London.

Ritzer, G 2010, Globalisation: a basic text, Blackwell Publishing, Malden.

Rodd, J 2015, Leading change in early years, McGraw-Hill Education, Berkshire.

Sivalingam, L & Dearman, F 2014, ‘Adapting education and care to respond to the strengths and needs of all children’, in J Johnson (ed), Becoming an early years teacher: from birth to five years, Open University Press, New York, NY, pp. 72-91.

Swift, T 2017, Learning through movement and active play in the early years: a practical resource for professionals and teachers, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

Tomlinson, P 2013, Early years policy and practice: a critical alliance, Critical Publishing, Northwich.

Wells, K 2015, Childhood in a global perspective, Polity Press, Cambridge.

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