This research investigates parental choice in an active preschool education market in Taiwan. Most research into parental choice of school has been conducted in quasi-markets; markets that are highly regulated by government policy. The Taiwanese preschool market could be said to be a true market, operating through supply and demand and regulated by price. How parents operate in such markets and how their choice influences what is offered, is less explored. The research consisted of following eighteen parents through the choice process. Data collection methods involved diaries completed before the child started preschool and two in-depth interviews; one at the beginning of the school year and one nine months later. The parents who supplied the information came from different educational backgrounds, social status and family structures. For most it was their first experience of choosing an educational setting for their children. Using a rational choice theoretical framework the thesis argues that there was certain rationality in the parents’ process of choice but balancing the benefits and costs of preschool education was embedded in a wider family context. In addition, the findings show that whilst the parents were initially concerned about the more structural aspects of quality, their on-going engagement with the preschool provision enabled them to have a deeper understanding of process issues. However, there were other criteria that the parents used which would suggest that they were defining quality in a way that may be more influenced by Taiwanese life and culture. One implication is that the quality of preschool provision is not likely to improve if it is purely dependent on preschools wishing to meet the parents’expectations. However, neither will it improve if the contextual conditions are ignored. The implications for Taiwanese government preschool policy are discussed.
|Date of Award||1 Jan 2008|
|Supervisor||Felicity Wikeley (Supervisor) & Rita Chawla-Duggan (Supervisor)|
- rational choice
- pre-school quality
- parental choice