The emergency that was installed worldwide this year revealed the existing inequality in the societies of the XXI century. The most vulnerable population groups are being the most affected, not only by the health crisis that each country is differently facing, but also because of the far-reaching economic and social crisis.
In general, the messages issued by the governments are addressed to a population which in the imaginary is made up of families that are effectively integrated, with job stability and relative economic well-being, capable of sustaining their diet, living in a house where they can take shelter for a long time, telecommuting and accompanying their children’s distance education because they have computers and internet connection. Unfortunately, the daily reality of most children and their families is different.
Due to the pandemic, the authorities proceeded to close educational centers and promote distance education. This measure meant much more than the loss of classes since the care that, especially in early childhood, accompanies education was affected too. In this context, the deficiencies not yet resolved in early childhood education and care became more evident: insufficient teacher training, inadequate locative conditions, low supply of materials, overcrowded groups beyond the recommended child-adult ratio, among others issues to address. These situations, that are not new, complicate the search for solutions when implementing the reopening of educational centers. In the countries where this happens, the return occurs partially, in transformed and highly regulated institutions from a hygienic perspective.
Due to the circumstances, the scientific health discourse acquired primacy over other qualified voices related to childhood. It is essential, then, to incorporate into the discourse the legitimate concern that exists in multiple sectors about the violation of rights that is affecting early childhood and the impact that this may have on development, learning and the construction of subjectivity For many, the answer to this situation lies in the return of children to early childhood education and care centers.. In health security conditions, there is no doubt that this measure is necessary; however, the issue is much more complex.
Parenting, especially in the early ages, is linked to the support conditions and well-being provided by family references. Therefore, the health, economic and social crisis influences the material and environmental conditions of raising. It is possible to ask, then, what other measures, in addition to the reopening of the centers, are being implemented by governments to strengthen families in their functions of care and nurturing?; How are inter-institutional and inter-sector responses directed at children and families organized and guaranteed?; What resources and care networks do educators have to respond to the critical situations they face?
In those countries in which these questions have not yet been formulated or have incomplete answers, it is urgent to form work groups specialized in early childhood, made up of leading professionals from multiple disciplines (pediatrics, sociology, pedagogy, psychology, psychomotor, among others) together with representatives of State agencies with responsibility for socio-educational-health policies. The prevailing paradigm that considers health as the absence of disease does not include early childhood among the population at risk. It is our duty to place them on the agenda to overcome their little or no visibility. The planning of coordinated actions will facilitate the activation of institutional, materials and human resources, with a comprehensive approach from the perspective of children’s rights.
As the health crisis stabilizes or is overcome, the government’s priority becomes the reactivation of the economy. From the humanistic vision that this pandemic situation imposes on us, we agree with Amartya Sen and his theory of human development based on the well-being of people. It is not possible for a society to achieve economic success without considering the individuals that compose it. For this theory, State institutions and social organizations occupy a place of relevance in the construction and implementation of public policies.
The pandemic intensified the worldwide already existing concern of improving the relationship between individuals and the environment, under the concept of sustainable development. That is why the public policies that are implemented must promote human development with sustainability.
Guaranteeing early childhood education and care in this context of crisis requires a synergistic combination that, taking into account the perspective of children, warrant their survival, ensures the fulfillment of their rights to health and care and comprehensive education, providing the necessary support for the development of their full potential.
– DEMARCHI, M (2005) Políticas educativas. Algunas reflexiones -Uruguay https://www.laondadigital.uy/LaOnda2/201-300/241/codicen-Marta%20Demarchi.pdf
-SEN y NUSSBAUM-Comp. (1993) La calidad de Vida. México. Fondo de Cultura Económica https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/libro?codigo=1430
– SEN Y ANAND (1994) Desarrollo humano sostenible: conceptos y prioridades. PNUD, unpublished.
Elizabeth Ivaldi – Primary Education Teacher Specialized in Early Childhood Education. Artistic Education, Educational Management and Supervision – Former National Inspector of Initial Education – Former Councilor for Public Education. Active member of OMEP Uruguay.