Teachers are key determiners of quality education, and regarding young children in particular, the quality of teachers can have a remarkable influence on the quality of education. However, research on the socioeconomic profile of preservice teachers at university remains rare in Turkey, especially eastern Turkey, where living conditions are below of the national average. In our study, the socioeconomic profile of 2,115 early childhood teacher candidates in faculties of education at state universities in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolian Regions of Turkey was examined. The study aimed to determine the rank order of students’ preferred early childhood education bachelor programs and the reasons for their preferences.
The descriptive profile research sought to identify the socioeconomic profile of preservice early childhood teachers recruited from 11 state universities. Participating students were asked several questions concerning the socioeconomic aspects of their university life in four domains: demographic and economic characteristics, education budget, family socioeconomic composition, and educational and sociocultural background. Descriptive analyses were performed to analyze the data.
The findings revealed that the students were mostly from low-income families. Most students ranked an early childhood education bachelor program among their top five choices on university selection exams. The top three reasons for their choosing early childhood education as a profession were love for children and the profession, the convenience of teacher appointment and satisfactory wage levels at state preschools, and the convenience and enjoyment of preschool teaching.
Implications for Research and Practice:
Most students were members of low-income families, for whom social, cultural, and sportive activities need to be more accessible. Similar studies should be repeated in other geographical regions of Turkey with students from other university departments and faculties in order to clarify the socioeconomic composition of university students, develop more effective bachelor programs, and improve student life at Turkish universities.
Keywords: East and Southeastern Anatolian Regions of Turkey, early childhood education in Turkey, socioeconomic profile of Turkish university students