Perceptions of quality in pre-school education : how do the teachers, parents and children in one pre-school in Samoa perceive the quality of the pre-school education they have? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University
This thesis used a case study approach to examine how three different stakeholder groups in early childhood education in Samoa perceived quality in early childhood education. A case study provides a picture of how a group of people interact with their environment at a particular time. This case study was located in one pre-school in Samoa and looked at how three groups (teachers, parents and children) in that pre-school perceived their pre-school in terms of the quality of the education that was offered there. It is a documented account of the factors these three groups in Samoa considered to be of value when they assessed the quality of the pre-school they participated in. A pilot study was used to trial questionnaires and adapt a methodology appropriate to the Samoan community. The research was then undertaken in another Samoan pre-school. Observations were carried out in the study pre-school followed by interviews and questionnaires for the three stakeholder groups. The beliefs these three groups had regarding their perception of quality in pre-school education in Samoa were explored in their own right. Beliefs about what makes a quality pre-school and the factors that contribute to a high quality pre-school were examined. The Samoan pre-school was assessed in terms of how the participants within it view quality pre-school education rather than by imposing some externally defined factors that contribute to a high quality pre-school in a more western society. This was also important when considering the need for development or modification of teacher education programmes for early childhood teachers in Samoa. This study was a cross-cultural study in that the researcher was from a different cultural background to the stakeholders in the pre-school. The implications of having a researcher from a different background is discussed as part of the significant findings of this study. The teachers, parents and children in this study perceived their pre-school to be high quality because it fulfilled their major expectation, that of preparation for school. While this may not be regarded in a western society as being a significant factor in determining quality it was an important factor within this local community and must be valued in this respect. An unexpected outcome of this study for both the pilot group and the study group teachers was the increased level of awareness of professional development.