Date of Conferral







Amie Beckett


This case study explored early childhood practitioners' response to government mandates for increased professionalism in Trinidad and Tobago; the impact of mandates on their personal and professional lives; and their conceptions of professionalism. The study addressed government concerns about lack of professionalism in Early Childhood Care and Education; informed policymakers of the myriad challenges therein; and included practitioners' voices in international discourse on professionalism. Change theory, systems thinking, and voice elicitation formed the conceptual framework for understanding changes needed to increase professionalism in the sector. The meaning of professionalism as defined in mandates; difference between practitioners and officials' definitions of professionalism; practitioners' view on the impacts of mandates; and how those impacts should be addressed were explained. Data were collected in interviews, focus groups, activity plans and journals from 12 practitioners; and from the national standards, curriculum guide, and schools' code of conduct. Discourse and content analysis were employed to identify patterns and themes in the data. Key findings were that mandates had more negative than positive impacts; children were under served; teachers frustrated and confused by impractical demands; and some administrators lacked content knowledge and leadership skills. Government officials, practitioners, and stakeholders need to dialogue to resolve problems illuminated by this study. Revision of legislative documents, fiscal adjustments for Trinidad and Tobago, continuous professional development, ongoing research, and national sensitization of practitioners' role will yield a better understanding of early childhood care and education, the catalyst for nationwide social change.