Formal and Non-Formal

Early Childhood Education - NDOE

Mario Abello
Early Childhood Education Specialist
Department of Education
FSM National Government

Early Childhood Education - NDOE

Welcome to the Early Childhood Education Program by courtesy of the National Department of Education (NDOE) website!

Early Childhood Education (ECE) generally represents the early years or foundational years of a child’s life, beginning at birth to age 8. A period of time where scientifically-based research findings prompts us or even challenges us, educators, parents, and stakeholders to heed to the call to pay a closer attention to the tremendous effects a child’s development has on later successes in life. These successes are not only realized in the child’s academic success, but in health, nutrition, physical, and cognitive development.

Within the acronym ECE used in the FSM, many countries as with neighboring countries in the Pacific region have chosen to highlight the caring and nurturing aspects of it; therefore, ECE by definition is a term broaden to be more comprehensive of a child’s holistic being and development.

Under the Division of Basic Education Services and Accreditation, the Early Childhood Education Program as stipulated in FSM code title 40 is tasked with the responsibility to develop early child education policy, curriculum, national standards, and benchmarks for the four FSM States. Hence, the Early Childhood Education Program’s has played vitally important role in addressing the needs of each of the FSM States’ role while balancing it with available human and financial resources to serve preschoolers or young children.

The ECE Program as in the past, in the Trust Territory days, are modeled after the former Head Start Program which was originally formulated to provide provisions in health, dental, mental, and parent involvement in support of formal education for preschool age children from the age of 3 to 5, a practice still held today. Furthermore, the ECE program is there to serve the needs of young children who may be at a disadvantage at a social, political, and economic stand point. In doing so, more questions are raised concerning the impact of ECE program on marginalized groups like a low income households and single mothers who are often unemployed because they lack the necessary knowledge and set of skills to enter the job market.

When faced with the challenge of educating and nurturing the young children in the FSM , often times the efforts of promoting and ensuring the quality services in early childhood programs and services appear as though these are the only two major objectives behind the definitive role of the Early Childhood Education Program. But, there are more to ECE than one would think. Children and families from the lower rungs of the social, political, and economic strata are given consideration in the provisions of ECE program and services. However, the true extent of ECE program benefits goes beyond the endless task of preparing our children early for a successful future later, whereby the health, economy, and mind of the nation are revitalized at intervening points in our education system.

The National Department of Education works in close collaboration with the States on issues and challenges in education for early childhood education to secondary education to ensure that relevant training and minimum standards on program criteria and operatives are securely in place.

At the state level, a major challenge that remains within the ECE as a division, in its ability to allocate much of the ECE program’s human and financial resources to consistently maintain quality and diversify services without federal or addition funding source. This feat proves to be more difficult in light of the step down of Compact funds as the nation moves towards the end of the financial provision in fiscal year 2023.

From the national perspective, priorities have to be made towards the procurement of program services supportive of monitoring and technical assistance.  As it is in the past to the present, the capacity of NDOE providing effective technical support and intervention strategies have been drastically affected with the elimination of the sector grant. For instance, the lunch program has been reduced or eliminated altogether. In extreme case, teachers and support staff have been laid off as it is when the program was reformed to take another name. The ECE program has a much more limited reach because of a major reduction in government funding from Compact fund. The elimination of sector grant has impaired the capability of program services at best.