Tiko, L. (2017). Creating an early childhood curriculum pathway for sustaining indigenous Fijian cultural knowledges. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 20(1), 17-33.
Original Research Paper
Creating an early childhood curriculum pathway for sustaining indigenous Fijian cultural knowledges
The rising multicultural nature of Fiji’s population calls for practices of equality and diversity in terms of early childhood education curriculum. Research suggests that children achieve better outcomes when their diverse strengths, abilities, interests and cultural practices are understood and supported (Derman-Sparks & Ramsey, 2011; Edwards, 2009; Fleer, 2010; Sims, 2011a). Valuing and respecting equality and diversity is vital for children to develop a strong sense of identity. This is also explicated in curriculum frameworks such as the Australia’s Early Years Learning Framework, Belonging, Being and Becoming (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR], 2009) and in Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the national New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum.
In this research, the experiences and ideas of the research participants were presented through their own words. They described their childhood experiences in homes, villages and in educational settings, and describe how Indigenous Fijian children today are experiencing very different childhoods compared to the past. Early childhood education and primary education were seen as major contributors and transmitters of Western knowledges to Indigenous Fijian people and the research participants perceived young children to be the most affected by these knowledges. There were some key elements of Indigenous Fijian cultural knowledges and epistemologies that participants agreed need to be preserved and maintained, although there were some areas of disagreement. This paper calls on the need for Indigenous Fijian cultural knowledge to be embedded into the Fijian early childhood education curriculum as a form of recognising and valuing equality and diversity of the Indigenous Fijian people.
Key words: Equality; diversity; social justice; culture.
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