UNICEF launches India Early Childhood Education Impact Study Report

Guwahati, September 19: UNICEF, in partnership with Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED), Ambedkar University, Delhi and ASER Centre launched a report on the Indian Early Childhood Education Impact study, a five-year longitudinal research study that followed a cohort of 14,000 four year olds from age four to age eight in rural areas of three states of India: Assam, Rajasthan and Telangana.

Findings from the report revealed that a majority of four-year old children are attending preschool, either through government-run Anganwadi Centres or private preschools. However, they do not necessarily participate in preschool and primary school at the ages and in the order that policies prescribe, and therefore there are children below the age of six in primary school and children above six in preschool in some states. The report highlights that even one year of participation in a quality early childhood development programme leads to higher school readiness levels, which in turn leads to better learning outcomes in the early primary grades.

However, a key concern emerging is that most of the children entered primary school at the age of five with school readiness levels which were far below expectations. They were thus unequipped to meet the demands of the curriculum and had low learning levels. The study concludes that the low school readiness levels in children are clearly related to the quality of preschool education. The large scale service providers do not use age and developmentally appropriate curriculum, methods and materials to engage children. It identifies formal teaching of the 3 R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic, as detrimental to children’s development.

Given the impact of preschool education on children’s outcomes in primary education, the study recommends the inclusion of pre-primary education as an integral part of the Right to Education Act. Since the age is a significant factor influencing children’s school readiness and learning levels, the study further recommends ensuring that children begin primary education only when they are developmentally ready, adhering to the norms of school entry as per the RTE Act, which requires that children begin grade 1 at the age of six years.

A regional workshop was also organized in Guwahati, to spread awareness on the critical findings and recommendations from the study. The study report, launched regionally in Guwahati, supports efforts to realize young children’s developmental potential and set the right pathways for lifelong learning.

This Eastern region workshop was conducted in Guwahati where invited participants from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and West Bengal were present. The workshop was organized by CECED, Ambedkar University Delhi in collaboration with ASER and UNICEF India.

Invited participants present in the workshop included Alak Saharia, IAS, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Govt. of Assam, Lata Menon, Consultant, UNICEF Delhi,  Mita Gupta, Education Specialist, UNICEF Delhi, Aparajita Bhargarh, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University Delhi, Dr Bandana Bhuyan, Former Regional Director, NIPCCD, Guwahati and Dr Tushar Rane, Chief Field Office UNICEF, Assam.

One can view the report here.

About CECED, Ambedkar University Delhi

CECED was established as a constituent of Ambedkar University, Delhi in 2009 to promote research, advocacy and quality in the field of early childhood education and development. Its mission is to contribute towards the national goals of social justice and equity by promoting developmentally and contextually appropriate early childhood care and education (ECCE) as every child’s right to a sound foundation and raising ECCE in the forefront of policy formulation and effective universal program implementation.

About ASER Centre

ASER Centre is the research and assessment unit of Pratham Education Foundation. Best known for facilitating the national survey of children’s foundational learning known as the Annual Status of Education Report, ASER Centre also conducts research on different aspects of the education system as well as other social sectors, focusing on generating actionable evidence related to children’s learning. For more information about ASER Centre, visit: www.asercentre.org

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