|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss the importance of good early childhood education in child development.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Early childhood education is education for children at early age especially between the ages of three and six. It is commonly referred to as preschool, nursery school or simply early education. During this period, children learn the social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities which are important for child development in future. Unfortunately, in India early childhood education is not much focused. The draft National Education Policy (NEP) seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework.
Importance of good early childhood education in child development:
- Socialisation: Humans are social beings and the main socialisation takes root in early childhood. In a safe environment away from family, children meet other people of their age, sowing the seeds of socialisation and friendship in young minds. This helps to develop self-confidence in your children by eliminating their shy nature.
- Cooperation: During this phase, children learn to share and cooperate. These are all part of a social life. This is especially beneficial for single children. In the safe environment provided, the child learns to cooperate with guidance from professionals.
- Holistic Development: It is important to have a strong foundation in every aspect of the personality such as emotional, social, mental and physical. Teachers who handle young children are well trained to identify the weaker aspects of a child and to encourage them to improve through practical sessions. Interaction amongst peers is extremely important in this context.
- Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning: Children develop a hunger for learning if they are taught through fun and exciting activities in early childhood. This eagerness and enthusiasm for learning remains with them their entire lives.
- Value of Education: The new environment provided in preschool gives children an entirely different perspective on the requirement of education. Grasping knowledge and applying them to their lives demonstrates the value of education.
- Teamwork: Many preschool activities are focused on teamwork and help children improve their attitude towards working as a team. A person’s teamwork capability is based on their respect for others opinions, listening skills and mentality towards equality. All these qualities are needed to be taught at a young age.
- Confidence and Self Esteem: A sense of wellbeing is important for a person to explore their talents. The positive interactions with peers and teachers encourage a positive view of themselves. This is an important impact of early childhood education.
- Cognitive Development: Professionally crafted activities in preschool enhance the development of the brain. Various activities involving analysing and logical reasoning help them to develop their skills.
Deficiencies in early childhood learning Programmes according to NEP:
- Accessibility: Early childhood education is costly and available only in urban schools mostly. Due to this many people are unable to access early childhood education nearby their area. Furthermore high cost is an impediment as poor are unable to spend money on early childhood education.
- Poor quality education: In addition to problems of access, the Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the existing early childhood learning programmes. These include:
- Curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children.
- Lack of qualified and trained teachers, and
- Substandard pedagogy.
- Less focus on early childhood education: Currently, most early childhood education is delivered through anganwadis and private-preschools. However, there has been less focus on the educational aspects of early childhood.
Various provisions regarding primary education in National Education Policy:
- Early childhood Curriculum: The draft Policy recommends developing a two-part curriculum for early childhood care and education. This consist of:
- Guidelines for up to three-year-old children (for parents and teachers).
- Educational framework for three to eight-year-old children.
This would be implemented by improving and expanding the anganwadi system and co-locating anganwadis with primary schools.
- The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act): Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of 6 to 14 years. The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education. This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of 3 to 18 years.
- No detention Policy: In addition, the draft Policy recommends that the recent amendments to the RTE Act on continuous and comprehensive evaluation and the no detention policy must be reviewed. It states that there should be no detention of children till class eight. Instead, schools must ensure that children are achieving age-appropriate learning levels.
- Curriculum framework: The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the development needs of students. This would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design comprising:
- 5 years of foundational stage (3 years of pre-primary school and classes one and two).
- 3 years of preparatory stage (classes three to five).
- 3 years of middle stage (classes six to eight).
- 4 years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).
- School infrastructure: The draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.
Recent studies reveal the importance of early childhood education as it can influence the mental, emotional and physical development of a child. To increase the quality of the education of children, it is important to ensure early childhood education. The recommendations in draft NEP should be implemented early.