Panel session at the International Conference co-hosted by the KICCE and the KAME

The Panel Session on Early Childhood Education and Diversity, jointly organized by the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE) and the Korean Association for Multicultural Education (President, Seong Sang-hwan), took place at the KICCE International Conference on Thursday, May 19, 2023. The session was held at 3:00 p.m. in Hoam Faculty House, located at Seoul National University. With the theme of 'Policies and Practices to Support Diversity in Early Childhood Education,' the panel session aimed to delve into topics such as bilingual education for multicultural children and pertinent issues in teacher education.  Moon Mugyeong, Director of the Office of International Research and Data Analysis, skillfully moderated the session, which commenced with welcoming remarks from Park Sang-Hee, President of the KICCE. The session featured four thought-provoking papers followed by an engaging discussion.

At the Education University of Hong Kong, Professor Kevin Kien Hoa Chung delivered a presentation titled 'How to Support Non-Chinese Speaking Ethnic Minority Children's Learning in Kindergarten Using Culturally Responsive Practices in Education.' The presentation shed light on the approximately 33,000 non-Chinese speaking ethnic minority children residing in Hong Kong. It highlighted the lack of understanding among kindergarten teachers in areas with fewer ethnic minority children regarding the needs of these children. However, through multicultural teacher training, teachers have enhanced their capacity to employ culturally sensitive teaching methods. Professors Michel Vandenbroeck and Brecht Peleman from Ghent University, Belgium, shared their insights on 'Supporting Diversity and Multilingualism in Belgian Early Childhood Education.' Their presentation drew upon four studies they conducted, which aimed to identify and foster awareness of subaltern languages. They emphasized the significance of continuous professional development for teachers in effectively supporting children's multilingualism. Professor Riyo Kadota from Seinan Gakuin University presented on the 'Issues of Multicultural Education in Pre-service Teacher Training Curriculum in Japan.' The presentation compared the concept of diversity in early childhood education curricula between Western countries and Japan. It stressed the need for a thorough examination of the real-life experiences and implications of diversity, in addition to belief systems about diversity, which should be reflected in teacher education curricula. Dr. Park Won-soon from the KICCE delivered a presentation titled "Challenges of Early Childhood Adaptation in Korean Society for Immigrant Families," analyzing the challenges faced by immigrant families and infants in adapting to Korean society. Dr. Park suggested several measures, including national health insurance service, emergency care, support for preschool and daycare fees, and a family-centered approach that goes beyond focusing solely on individual children. During the free discussion, the papers reaffirmed the importance of teacher education and training in supporting multicultural children and families. Active discussions revolved around the composition of teacher education curricula and how they can be enhanced to address these needs effectively.