Discourses of economic investment and child vulnerability in early childhood education

Linda Mary Mitchell


This article explores discourses of economic investment and child vulnerability that have become dominant under New Zealand’s National-led Government as a rationale for policy directions in early childhood education. It highlights the need for explicit values about children and childhood to be a basis for early childhood policy development, with a commitment to equity and democratic citizenship being a good place to start. The article draws on policy document analysis, policy evaluations and research to argue that current policies have run counter to a democratic view of citizenship, and led to a swing away from universal approaches to education for all towards targeted interventions for priority children. At the same time, a drive for measurable outcomes is in danger of funnelling early childhood education into narrow goals that bypass a broad view of what education might possibly be. Ideas for future policy directions are discussed.


Early Childhood Education; education policy; New Zealand; National-led Government; privatisation; democracy

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v22i1.552


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015