Early Child Development [ECD]

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Synopsis – The Early Child Development [ECD] is important for the future healthy minds and workforce in the country.


  • The Early Child Development [ECD] is important for the future of healthy minds and workforce in the country.
  • The first few years after birth is most critical for development. Scientific reports also mention that in the first 2,000 days only the foundations for life is laid.
  • If a child is suffering from chronic malnutrition, poor health, lack of mental stimulation, abuse, neglect, and toxic stress during his/her first few years. It can affect the healthy development of both body and brain.
  • This will have long-term effects on the health, learning, and behaviour of a child in future.

What is Hackman Equation?

Heckman’s equation says that ” A society will get a higher rate of returns if it invests in the early years of children’s lives”.  It works by the following formula:

Invest + Develop + Sustain = Gain

  • Invest- Invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families to provide successful early human development.
  • Develop- Nurture early development of cognitive and social skills in children from birth to age 5.
  • Sustain- Sustain the early development with effective education throughout the course of the child.
  • Gain – Gain a more capable, productive, and valuable workforce that pays dividends for generations to come.

What are the required steps to strengthen the ongoing ECD intervention?

Some interventions for Early Childhood Development are already ongoing successfully.  Like, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for maternal and child health and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for Nutrition have been successful in their aims. But more steps are required to ensure a healthy early childhood for our new generation;

  • First, to give social protection for the vulnerable groups – Children lagging behind in developmental outcomes came from families dealing with poverty. Poverty results in poor health, malnutrition, lack of a steady family income.
    • According to a study from Harvard University, ECD interventions are more effective in child development when paired with parent education and family support. So the government has to provide more support to bring people out of poverty.
  • Second, to emphasize improving parenting skills- A loving relationship in the family is important. This can be done by providing educational classes for mothers immediately after delivery.
  • Third, newborn clinics and follow-up visits can be done during the time throughout the ECD stage.
  • Fourth, Pre-schools can be set up focussing on particular attention to foundational aspects of child development domains. Further, they can be linked to the existing schools to make them sustainable.
  • Fifth, The government needs to provide an ECD budget to ensure skill development of employees and set up community libraries to provide everybody with a learning atmosphere.

Way forward

  • Governments must put progressive reforms to target the learning of the most vulnerable. With meaningful actions alone the government can see a real change in leaving no one behind.
  • ASHAs and Anganwadi workers can be declared as critical health care staff for providing the knowledge, skills, and sustainable resources to everyone.


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