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Childhood today seminar discusses the Universal Child

Universal Child Monday 7 December 2015

Professorial Fellow Professor Theodora Papatheodorou considered the concept of the universal child at the latest Childhood Today seminar.

Professor Papatheodorou discussed the long-time division between care and education and how that has changed over time, before tracing how Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) provision has been approached differently by educators, governments and economists throughout the last thirty years.

Professor Papatheodorou looked at the different cases made for Early Childhood Care and Education provision (ECCE), in terms of child rights, socio economic arguments, neuroscience, pedagogy and as an intervention.

She argued that while international charters based on a universal child can be beneficial, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals, the term ‘universal’ suggests the existence of biological, genetic and economic sameness across the globe, when in reality children are brought up in vastly different contexts, cultures and conditions.  She argued that the development and application of these charters needs to have space for differentiation that is appropriate and relevant to the country and the services available for those children who live there.   

Professor Papatheodorou also warned that charters that refer to ECCE provision as an investment for the future, suggest an instrumental view of the child, and are in danger of not looking at children as they are. She said that there is a need in such discourses to consider context in all cases, and to remain aware of universal systemic responses to dominant research and policy discourses that see children “in the making of tomorrow’s productive citizens” at the expense of their “being today as potent and individually unique citizens”.

Faculty of Education

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