Knowing the importance of early childhood education, but wanting to know more, brought Tanzanian Ignasia Mligo to the University of Waikato to study for a PhD.
Ignasia has been awarded a Waikato University research institute doctoral scholarship to help finance her study into experiences and issues in early childhood education. Her scholarship is worth $22,000 a year plus fees for three years’ full-time study and she’ll be based in the Institute of Professional learning in the Faculty of Education.
“My study stems from a desire to see children enjoying their childhood and leading happy lives,” says Ignasia. “My experience as a teacher and lecturer in Tanzania has shown that while students can be reasonably good academically, they’re not always as competent in areas such as socio-emotional and behavioural development, or they may not have good learning dispositions. I suspect that it could be due to a lack of guidance and foundations from the early stage of learning.”
Ignasia says her research may benefit New Zealand and her own country in areas of curriculum and teachers’ professional development. “In the course of my study I plan to visit early childhood centres in New Zealand in order to learn and also to contribute knowledge. I also think it’s important internationally to raise awareness of the importance of investing in early years’ education.”
Her research includes group and individual interviews, classroom observations and documentary analysis. She had already started her study when she learned about the scholarships. “I’d been studying for almost a year when I found out by the scholarship. It’s certainly made my life a lot easier,” she says.
The University of Waikato’s six flagship research institutes offered new doctoral and masters scholarships for the first time this year. The research institutes support world-class research in professional learning and development, education, environmental science, demography and economic analysis, business and leadership, and Māori and indigenous development.