Why duration of early literacy and numeracy programmes must be increased

Source– The post is based on the article “Why duration of early literacy and numeracy programmes must be increased” published in the “The Indian Express” on 28th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues related to development and management of education

Relevance: Issues related to foundational literacy

News– In a recent decision, the Ministry of Education has rolled back the scope of NIPUN Bharat to children in Grades 1-2, leaving out children in Grade 3.

The justification provided by the government behind this change?

It is to establish coherence between NIPUN Bharat and the recommended curriculum framework outlined in NEP 2020 and the National Curricular Framework 2023.

The National Curricular Framework document proposes an initial “foundational stage of learning,” including three years of preschool education along with the initial two years of primary school.

Therefore, the reasoning is that the NIPUN Bharat initiative should conclude at Grade 2.

What are the issues related to this government decision?

Anganwadi centers cater to children aged three to six. They predominantly concentrate on health, immunization, and nutrition. Only a small fraction of these centers offers consistent and high-quality preschool education.

Around 68% of children aged three to six in India lack access to educational services. A majority of these children come from households with limited literacy exposure and encounter the concept of literacy for the first time in Grade 1.

Furthermore, 35% of children spend a significant portion of their primary school years dealing with the linguistic differences between their home language and the language of instruction in school.

There is a need to provide additional assistance to children in Grades 1 to 5 to ensure they have sufficient time to establish strong foundations in language and numeracy skills.

The National Curricular Framework has simply advocated for the implementation of appropriate teaching practices for children aged three to eight.

The foundational phase outlined in the NEP and NCF does not include the full spectrum of literacy, numeracy skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary for all subsequent learning within school by the culmination of Grade 2.

One of the factors behind such decisions could be an insufficient understanding of the concepts of literacy and numeracy. Literacy is being interpreted as the skill to blend letters and read words at a specific pace within a certain age bracket.

Way forward-

It is crucial to expand our understanding of early foundational learning. This expansion should encompass knowledge about children’s lives, effective oral expression, profound inferential comprehension, enjoyment and appreciation of literature.

These comprehensive foundations cannot be established by the conclusion of Grade 2 or even Grade 3?

There is a need for extension of the duration of programs aimed at reinforcing early literacy and numeracy skills to include children in Grades 4 and 5.

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