Revealing colonial power relations in early childhood policy making: An autoethnographic story on selective evidence

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COVID-19, Autoethnography, Early childhood policy analysis, Decoloniality, South Africa


The COVID-19 pandemic exposes uncertainty, instability and glaring inequality that requires urgent global policy decisions. Historically, bureaucrats regard uncertainty as the enemy and look for tested solutions (Stevens, 2011). In contrast, Fielding & Moss (2010) acknowledge an uncertain future and encourage shifting policy making towards the search for possibilities instead of replicating singular solutions. Escobar (2020) advocates for pluriversal politics, with many possibilities created through collective decision-making by autonomous interlinked networks. In this paper, I combine autoethnography with policy analysis drawing on my own experience in South African early childhood policy making. I argue for a fresh decolonial debate about early childhood policy to replace dominant imported evidence-based narratives. I pay attention to power relations and examine, not only the content of evidence, but who has authority to speak (Mignolo, 2007). I introduce the bottom-up appreciative participatory dialogical policy making in the Gauteng Impilo project (1996 - 2000), as one attempt to resist the dominant policy trajectory. Local networks, that can inform policy making and resource allocation though conversation and action, emerged from this experience. This article invites urgent inclusive policy debate that expands choices and can produce cumulative worthwhile change and new learnings to birth a better society.


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How to Cite

Rudolph, N. (2021). Revealing colonial power relations in early childhood policy making: An autoethnographic story on selective evidence. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 2(1), 14–28.