Provision for ‘Under 3s’ in Australian Early Childhood Education and Care Policy Commitments: A Metaphorical Canary in the Coal Mine?
In this chapter, I make use of the concepts of events and order-words from philosophers Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari to ask “What work does the construct or category of ‘under 3s’ perform?” Taking two key events within the Australian policy context [2007–2015] in which under 3s performed an order-word in contrasting ways, I contend that with respect to policy commitments to the provision of a national system of high quality early childhood education and care, the category under 3s may serve similar functions to a ‘canary in the coal mine’. This idiomatic English language phrase refers to an advance warning of danger ahead. It originates from the days when underground miners carried caged canaries. If there were no noxious gases in the mine, the canary would survive yet another day. If noxious gases were present in the mine, the canary would perish before the levels of the gas reached those hazardous to humans. Employing this metaphor, I argue that in the current Australian context, ‘under 3s’ are at risk of being seen by the Australian Government as a category for whom policy commitments, particularly with respect to educator qualification requirements, are as expendable as the miners’ canaries. Endangered policy commitments to under 3 could portend further dangers ahead for efforts to achieve systemic and sustainable high quality ECEC.
KeywordsProductivity Commission Policy Commitment National Quality Framework Early Year Learn Framework Australian Early Childhood
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