Early Childhood Education (ECE) refers to the first 8 years of a child’s life. It is a sensitive phase where children first learn essential, critical, social, and emotional skills.
What is the significance of early childhood education?
Research in neuroscience confirms that the rate of development of the human mind is more rapid during 0-8 years than at any other age. Up-to 85% of the brain’s development is complete by the time a child attains six years of age. ECE acts as the groundwork that continues to grow throughout a child’s education.
Focusing on ECE results in better learning and retention of foundational skills that are needed for life. Quality ECE is also good for the country’s economy as it increases graduation rates and helps create a quality workforce.
Early Childhood Education In India And Why It’s Important.
Where does Indian Stand in ECE?
According to the world bank report (October 2019), India is facing “learning poverty”. It means being unable to read and understand the short age-appropriate text by age 10. As per the report, 55% of children in India at the late primary age are not proficient in reading. 2% of primary school-aged children are out of school. 54% of primary school students do not achieve the minimum proficiency level. However, India is 3.5 percentage points better than the average South Asian region.
How can we improve the current situation?
Government’s Initiatives: The government of India aims to strengthen the investment in ECCE (Early Child Care and Education) to give all young children, (particularly children from socio‑economically disadvantaged groups), access to quality education.
The New National Education Policy will develop a National Curriculum and Pedagogical Framework for ECCE. It will consist of two parts, a sub-framework for 0-3-year-olds and another sub-framework for 3-8-year-olds.
The overall goal of providing high-quality ECE will be achieved through:
- Stand-alone anganwadis
- Anganwadis co-located with primary schools.
- Stand-alone pre-schools.
- Pre-schools covering at least age 5 to 6 years co-located with primary schools.
Teacher Training for ECE: The government of India will dedicate resources to prepare an initial cadre of high-quality ECE teachers by giving them a special certification program and/or a one‑year diploma covering early numeracy, literacy, and other relevant aspects. Teacher vacancies will be filled at the earliest in disadvantaged areas, areas with large pupil-to-teacher ratios, and areas with high illiteracy rates. Local teachers or those familiar with local languages will be given priority.
Role of EdTech: One cannot ignore the role of Education Technology in boosting the quality of early education. Edtech can bring in more products and cover more areas by charting pathways for scale and building an ecosystem.
The size of the opportunity in numbers:
- 1.5 million schools
- 216 million school-going children
- 10 million teachers.
Technology can provide the right tools for parents, teachers, and pre-schools to facilitate efficient ECE. For example, Disney BYJU’S Early Learn app is designed to make early learning fun, engaging, and effective. This app is crafted for children aged between 6-8 years. The app emphasizes on ‘learn-by-doing’ by providing hands on practice for kids.
Another example is WhiteHat Jr, they have introduced live coding courses starting for kids from the 1st grade. Through coding kids can learn logic, convergent and divergent thinking, and creative expressionism. It can also help in bridging the gap between children’s skills and the requirements of the new world.
EdTechs can offer their expertise and technology capabilities to the government in providing better quality of ECE and facilitate attaining foundational literacy and numeracy for all children. We have to achieve this mission by 2025.