Early Scope

Pre-school edn model in TS not appropriate, reveals UNICEF study

HYDERABAD: The quality of pre-school education is not developmentally apporpriate for children, revealed a recently released report on the Indian Early Childhood Education Impact (IECI).
The five-year longitudinal research study that followed a cohort of 14,000 from age 4 to 8 in rural areas of Telangana, Assam and Rajasthan was conducted by UNICEF, in partnership with Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED), Ambedkar University Delhi and Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).

Findings of the study reveal that government-run Anganwadi centres and private pre-schools are the only major models of early childhood education available in the country but neither models offer the children the environment or the inputs they need for optimal development at their age.
For instance, planned play, a critical competent of early childhood education programmes is almost entirely absent in both models.
Instead, private pre-schools utilise 39 per cent of the time and aganwadis 18 per cent of time on formal teaching of reading writing and arithmetic or the three R’s that researchers identify as “detrimental to children’s development.”

A key concern emerging from the study is that most children in the study entered primary school at age 5 with school readiness levels which were far below expectations.
“They were thus unequipped to meet the demands of the curriculum. These low school readiness levels in children are clearly related to the quality of pre-school education. The large scale service providers do not use age and developmentally appropriate curriculum, methods and materials to engage children,” stated the report.

Recommendations

The study recommends the inclusion of pre-primary education as an integral part of the Right to Education Act. “Children should 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 age 6,” stated  Aparajita Bhargarh, project director and assistant professor, Ambedkar University Delhi.
She added that emphasises is also laid on the importance of a play-based curriculum for three to eight year olds. To ensure quality, the study recommends that activities conducted in preschool programmes be age and developmentally appropriate, with well-trained frontline workers and teachers practicing child-centered pedagogy.  The study further recommends that a regulatory system be instituted for early childhood education, to ensure quality standards are adhered to across all providers, including in the private sector.

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