The newly released draft New Education Policy (NEP), 2019 aims to improve the education sector of India by giving a greater impetus to learning and development. The policy recommends starting a comprehensive program for young children called ‘Early Childhood Care and Education- ECCE’. It has proposed the implementation of ECCE based on a strategic approach that focuses on developing an excellent curriculum and educational framework for early childhood education by NCERT. Also, its reach should be made possible through a comprehensive and strong system of educational institutions for early childhood. In addition, an efficient system will be developed for imparting education through trained teachers. Draft to make ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ universal The New Education Policy recommended incorporating it into the Right to Education Act, 2009.
‘Early Childhood Care and Education'(ECCE)
To ensure access to free, safe, high quality, developmental level of care and education for every child between 3 to 6 years of age by 2025.
- Quality ECCE during the age before three years of age requires attention to the health and nutrition of both mother and child.
- This program will have two parts, the first part will be related to the outline of guidelines for children of 0-3 years of age. Parents and Anganwadi workers will be used to create appropriate cognitive stimulation in infants and children of this age group.
- The second part will be related to the educational framework associated with children (basic level) in the age group of 3-8 years. This section will be for the use of parents as well as Anganwadi centers, pre-primary schools and children of classes 1 and 2. The emphasis will be on developing a flexible, multi-layered, play, activity and research-based learning system with the objective of teaching letters, numbers, vernacular / mother tongue etc. to young children. Along with this, social-emotional skills such as curiosity, patience, teamwork, cooperation, communication and empathy will also have to be developed which is important in terms of preparation before going to school.
- Strengthening the Anganwadi system to strengthen the educational component.
- Establishment of Anganwadi centers and pre-primary schools with primary schools.
A learning crisis arises when a child’s learning outcomes do not correspond to his or her expected educational qualification. According to the draft New Education Policy, the learning crisis lies in the gaps in childcare and education that form the basis of learning ability and ability to enter school. The new education policy has identified the existence of a learning crisis in the existing system. This has actually been confirmed by the findings of the National Achievement Survey- NAS, 2014. In the survey conducted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development covering 1,10,000 schools, the national average percentage marks of third grade students in Language and Mathematics subjects were just 64 percent and 66 percent respectively, indicating serious learning deficiency. is.
Learning crisis factor
- Historically India’s education system has not been mostly responsible for pre-school learning abilities and care. Since entry into primary school in India, the focus is on learning outcomes. Apart from basic teaching activities organized at Anganwadi centers, a strong infrastructure to impart basic knowledge to children in their early childhood has often been absent.
- The problem of undernourishment leads to higher economic costs, both in terms of worse learning outcomes and loss of productivity. National Family Health Survey (2015-16) data on stunted (age less weight), wasted (underweight) and underweight (age less weight) ratio of 38.4 percent, 21 percent and 35.8 percent respectively Also shows a dismal trend. This is a serious worrying scenario. Therefore, a strong nexus between education and nutrition is very important for the basic development of children. 158.79 million children of India in the age group of 0-6 years are in even more critical condition. They are faced with a double-edged sword of poor learning ability and undernourishment.
Why Learning Improvement Required?
The draft policy has self-identified based on evidence from neuroscience that 85 percent of the child’s brain development occurs before the age of 6. Investing in early childhood education is also necessary because then the investment made in the child’s education can be benefited ten times in the future. Adequate attention to educational outcomes and learning means investing in future generations and the productivity of the economy. In addition, children’s learning ability negatively affects educational level and future prospects. It is necessary for the government to pay attention to the physical and mental development of children so that level playing fields can be constructed so that opportunities can be made inclusive for all.
Thailand’s Integrated Nutrition and Community Development Program – Case Study
The main objective of many national program plans in developing countries is poverty alleviation. Along with a program to eradicate poverty in Thailand, programs such as community-based primary health care, nutritional education, dietary supplements and physical growth of children were added. After nutrition education, attention was given to interdisciplinary and psycho-social details, especially parenting and child activities. All these activities were compatible with the values and traditions of the culture of the community, due to which the feeling of alienation was not created. Video cassettes were used to deliver health and nutritional messages so that even illiterate mothers could easily accept these messages. Thus the cost of operating the program was low, and the program proved to be successful.
The new education policy draft is an appropriate step in this direction. Investment in education is a necessary condition for better academic performance, but it is not enough. The idea is that efforts to address the decline in learning ability will not yield the expected results, regardless of factors such as health and nutrition related to educational outcomes. There has been enough study in the world about the interrelationship between children’s nutrition and their educational achievements. Lack of nutrition affects a child’s mental, physical, and cognitive development, reduces their immunity and can have a serious impact on their learning outcomes. For any reform in education to be truly effective, it will be necessary to have a solid, collaborative and multi-faceted path where the basic focus on both basic education and health and nutrition is given. It is certainly an ambitious goal. In early childhood, a comprehensive policy with both learning and nutrition moving forward would be most appropriate. From this perspective, the draft policy is a commendable step and it provides a framework of basic literacy and numeracy for young children. Along with this, an Integrated Child Development Scheme is also needed to provide adequate nutritional support through balanced diet, dietary supplements and physical exercises that will support the objectives of the new education policy. . Investments made in the early stages of early childhood will provide long-term benefits in the form of a healthy and productive working population in the future.
Early childhood care and education should be such that it can meet the needs of children such as safety, food, health care, as well as providing them with opportunities for affection, protection, motivation and learning. High quality early childhood care and education ensures that children can develop their full potential and grow to become productive human beings. In addition, early childhood care and education programs have become a relevant issue due to factors such as the changing family structure from joint family to nuclear family, migration and the increasing number of women moving out of home to work. It is imperative that India take proper care of its children during their early age. This should be done not only for economic reasons but also from the perspective of social justice and human rights, because every child has the right to be properly looked after. Early childhood care and education programs should be holistic in nature, not fragmented in nutrition, health and education services.
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