Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture
A South Asian Initiative on Development Communication
Other Stories
Why early childhood education needs a re-think

February 27, 2021

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been pushing for those involved in early childhood education to re-examine the way the minds of children are moulded. While reiterating the need for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the Policy has attempted to shift gears towards a more experiential learning model, stressing that the entire ecosystem should move away from the typical rote learning practice. While Cambridge International took the cue to introduce early childhood curriculum in the schools in India in line with NEP 2020, its implementation in schools under national and state boards needs a re-think.

“Since numeracy and literacy skills of Indian children are much lower than world standards, NEP 2020 has recommended early childhood learning interventions to make learning more holistic. However, there is a structural problem in the Indian education system. The Anganwadis (for children up to 5 years) are handled mostly by the Woman and Child Development (WCD) department and partly by the health departments of the state governments. Class I-XII, on the other hand, is handled by the state education departments. For learning to be seamless, all these three departments have to work in tandem for the successful implementation of NEP 2020,” says Bijaya Kumar Sahoo, advisor to the Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya Sangathan, Government of Odisha and founder mentor at SAI International Education Group.

Implementation strategies

According to him, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) must develop qualitative curriculum pedagogy and train teachers for capacity building within states in line with NEP 2020. “The states should also create the State School Standards Authority (SSSA) as an independent entity to improve overall quality of K-12 education and ensure accountability,” says Sahoo. Citing Odisha as a front runner in early childhood learning, Sahoo adds that it has set up a task force to develop implementation strategies post consultation with all stakeholders to recommend policies.

Talking about the need for adequate infrastructural resources, Sahoo stresses that state governments are already working to integrate IT as a key facilitator for imparting quality education. “But digital resources cannot replace books and teachers, though it can be an enabler to upgrade the quality of school education,” he adds.

As for language of instruction as per NEP 2020 guidelines, Sahoo explains that children’s learning is best conducted in the mother tongue but English must be introduced as a subject to ensure their smooth transition to formal schooling.

Way forward

Emphasising on NEP 2020 highlighting the need for ECCE to be multifaceted and flexible, Radhika Bhushan, founder director, SKB Little Folks preschool says, “A three-year-old’s overall physical, cognitive, language, social-emotional development can be handled very well, if done right. This is an ongoing process with age-appropriate activities planned as per their developmental levels. It is currently not even on the agenda of the boards, and there is still a long way to go.”

Highlighting the need for a separate space for pre-schoolers as their requirements are very different to K-12 methods of teaching, she adds that early childhood learning requires one-on-one with children. It calls for low student-to-teacher ratio to ensure greater freedom and their activities planned as per the developmental milestones. "With education largely being taken over by the corporate world, such compassion and care is lacking. And they are jamming children into rooms with poor child-teacher ratio. This is going to stunt children’s growth and childhood."

Source: The Times Of India

Development News Updates

Events & Media Coverage

Video Corner