New Early Childhood Education program at UH-West Oahu

Program to fill critical need for trained preschool professionals in Hawaii

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Joe Mobley, (808) 454-4716
University of Hawaii-West Oahu
Posted: Jan 19, 2006

HONOLULU — At its monthly meeting held today at Kapioʻlani Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi‘s Board of Regents (BOR) approved the establishment of a new program in Early Childhood Education at UH-West Oʻahu (UHWO). The proposed Concentration in Early Childhood Education will be created under UHWO‘s Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences degree program.

The new program will strengthen the educational and career ladder provided by the UH system for students who seek to obtain the preparation needed by early childhood teachers to meet increasingly higher standards in Hawaiʻi.

"Research has shown that the most important period of learning takes place in the first five year‘s of a child‘s life, and yet, in Hawaiʻi, we face a shortage of highly qualified teachers who are trained in early childhood education" said Gene Awakuni, UHWO Chancellor. "This new program will fill a critical need in Hawaiʻi to train our early childhood professionals.

"Moreover, state after state is requiring greater training and higher standards for early childhood teachers. Four-year degrees are rapidly becoming the norm for teaching children from birth through age five. At the national level, the most recent Congressional reauthorization of the Head Start program requires that at least 50 percent of its teachers hold bachelor degrees by 2010. Twenty-one states require bachelor‘s degrees for early childhood teachers who work in state financed pre-kindergarten programs."

The new UHWO program will enable community college students to attain a bachelor‘s degree in early childhood education without losing credits when moving between the community college and UHWO. At present, the University of Hawaiʻi system only offers undergraduates the opportunity to earn an Associate of Science degree with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education at four of the community colleges (Kauaʻi, Honolulu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi). These four campuses have recently revised their program requirements in order to align their curriculum and ensure that graduates from any of the programs will have a solid foundation to begin their careers in the field of early education and/or to continue their education in early childhood.

Numerous studies substantiate the assertion that having specialized preparation in early childhood education ensures the best education and care to young children. The developmental and learning tasks that occur from birth to age five are often given "inadequate attention" in traditional teacher education programs, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. To its credit, the College of Education at UH-Mānoa offers a number of courses in early childhood as part of its elementary education program. It also offers a Master‘s degree in Early Childhood Education for those who already hold bachelor‘s degrees.

About the University of Hawaiʻi

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaiʻi is the state‘s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaiʻi, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information, visit