Summary of discussion

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“Early childhood care and education – Indian Perspective”

KiiT International School in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) held a one day seminar on Early Childhood Care and Education – Indian Perspective on 11th December at Campus-7, KIIT  Deemed to be University. The Inaugural Ceremony was graced by Smt. Tukuni Sahu, Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child Welfare, Govt. of Odisha; Mr. Arvind Agarwal, Director, Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. of Odisha; Dr. Anubha Rajesh, Chair and Professor, Centre for Early Childhood Development and Research, Jamia Millia Islamia University; Dr. Mona Lisa Bal, Chairperson of Convenor Education Panel, CII Odisha State Council & Chairperson, KiiT International School; Mr. Prafulla Kumar Dhal, Convenor CSR,CII Odisha State Council & Mr. Kamal Agarwal YI Chairman, Bhubaneswar Chapter.

The conference on early childhood care and education was organized in KSOM by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). With the release of draft National Education Policy (NEP), the biggest takeaway has been that it has categorically recognized the importance of nutrition and early childhood care (3-6 years) in overall development of the child. The draft says that,” Evidence from neuroscience shows that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6”.

It is in this context that the discussions were held in two rounds. First round focused on need for proving early childhood care while the second round pondered over the ways to ensure quality access to these services. 

In the first round of discussion, one of the most important questions raised was whether ECC should be made a fundamental right. Four perspective related to ECCE were highlighted. Neuroscience perspective says that 85% of brain development takes place in the first 1000 days of the child. If the neurons are not stimulated during this period, the development of child is hampered for the entire life. Development perspective includes cognitive, social and physical aspects of child development which needs to be addressed during this period. Third, is the Economic perspective which revolves around Hechman’s Theory. It states that infusion of funds in ECCE is like an investment which has a very high rate of return. For example it leads less drop-out rate, better health and creation of responsible citizens. Fourth, is the Rights perspective which talks about various rights related to nutrition and education in the early days of childhood.

The need and importance of ECCE is being promoted actively by Odisha Government. For eg- “Ankur Diwas” is an event is organized on 19th of every month in which parents are made aware of the significance of ECCE by Anganwadi workers. This program along with “Arunima” has generated a lot of positive results as far as awareness goes.

Second Round of discussion was on how to ensure delivery of quality service. After conclusion of MDG in 2015, SDG clearly highlights “Quality” as a major concern in service delivery. NEP has also made suggestions in this regard. It has argued for creation of separate pre-school between the age of 3 to 6. NEP has also recommended for rigorous training of Anganwadi workers and lessen the amount of workload on them to enhance the quality of service they are expected to provide.

The panel of experts too recommended various ways in which quality can be enhanced. One of the major suggestions was to make available books in the local language.  Several studies have proved that books in mother tongue enhance the learning outcome as well as generates curiosity amongst children. Experts were also of the opinion that there needs to be a change in traditional ways of teaching and learning method.  Pedagogy and Storytelling is the most significant teaching tool. Thirdly, focus need to be laid on Interaction between teachers and students. This can only be increased by limiting the teacher to student ratio to 1:20 or 1:25. Children interest is enhanced with one on one interaction with the teacher. Fourth is of course the capacity building. Imparting skills is very crucial among Anganwadi workers. Moreover, volunteer mobilization should also be done to compensate for the limited number of Anganwadi workers. Involvement of parents in early childhood days is of equal importance as a child spends only 3-4 hours in such centers. Lastly, all these efforts and initiatives must be combined with robust mechanism of assessment  and monitoring to keep the system in check , plug the loopholes and ensure the running of system smoothly.

Overall, it was a very insightful, engaging and interactive session. A book titled, An Insight into India’s Education Policy authored by Dr. Mona Lisa Bal was also released in the Inaugural Ceremony.

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