Fresh and flexible minds of the kids absorb the things much better than the matured minds of the adults. So, the early six years of your ward merit paramount importance as to how he/she is being educated, how is the curriculum, the way of pedagogy and so on. Once the base of education is strong, the rest of the structure will definitely be stable. Same is applicable here as well. If children are educated well in the initial stage of their life, they will definitely do well in their future. But it has been observed that the early education sector has generally been ignored in India’s education setup. However, here are some effective ways that can enable Indian pre-schools make improvement that will help India bring up the kind of empowered citizens who can meet the challenges the world faces more easily. However, the focus on early years’ education in the draft national Education Policy 2019 is appreciable. Of course, the policy seems to be a sincere reformative initiative taken in right prospective, its benefits, like any public policy, will bank upon its implementation.
The benefit from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Sector in India
In December 2017, the London-based market research company Technavio projected the Indian pre-school sector to improve at a CAGR of around 32% for the last few years. Despite being one of the youngest populations in the world, over 60% of its population is below 30 years of age. In view of the segment of the population in 2011 (after the census), India had more than 16.5 crore children in the age group of 0-6 years. In order to cater to this segment of the population, India, as of 2015, had some 33,000 pre-schools. Thus, it is not a matter of astonishment if it makes a contribution of about US $ 32 billion to its GDP.
Obstacles before pre-school sector in India
The number of pre-schools has increased in proportion to the cost of the quality. The sector is not governed well. Resultantly, the obstacles are numerous:
Lack of mechanism for registration & certification of pre-school
Minimum requirements are yet to be determined in regard of the size and space in the school-buildings, the quality of the infrastructure or safely standards at school.
A standardized curriculum is missing
Each school claims to be the follower of most modernized methods and techniques. Actually these need to be answered.
Lacking transparency in definition pinches early childhood care and education in India
Following the old trend, children are taken through the rigidity of rote learning to memorize sound with a little word.
Fee structure causes huge variations
India is a country of distinct variations in every sphere of life, and so is found in education domain also. Here many parents spend three thousand to eight thousand a month in a tier-I city, but around 150 rupees per month is also a source of education in the Aanganwadi centers in rural India. So there is a huge difference in standard of education due to socio-economic differences.
Despite having diplomas and degrees, teachers are not well-trained
One of the major challenges faced by education sector in India is the extreme lack of well-trained and certified teachers. They may be degree holders but very few of them are well trained to teach. So parents entrust their kids at least to learn well in such an initial phase of pre-schooling.
Suggestive measures that can improve India’s pre-school sector
It must be kept in mind that India’s ECCE sector has made available some of the best pre-schools in the world. These schools have combined innovative pedagogies with state-of-the-art infrastructure to flourish an ambiance that is exceptionally suitable to learning. But will this scanty number of institutions to be counted on fingers suffice? So there is a need to understand that the main reason behind the persisting problem is the lack of focus on this crucial aspect. So with better regulation, ECCE can embark on taking some effective measures in this regard.
Registration of schools will help maintain a record of each new entrant into the field that will substantiate traceability and responsibility. The process will make sure that each pre-school has all the necessities in terms of infrastructure, training tools and safety standards. Not only this, the provision for healthy and nutritious food must be a pre-requisite for registration. Besides, routine check-ups under regulatory bodies should also be carried on.
There are more than enough curriculum for pre-schools across the world. Hence, instead of designing newer curriculum and specifying infrastructure requirements, the government needs to simply list down all approved curriculum that are rationally acceptable. The curriculum should be such as it must help teachers be more knowledgeable and intentional in their routine planning for students and the class. It should help in creating an ambiance that encourages them to explore learning materials and chances of interaction with adults and peers. Some relevant examples can by the EYFS curriculum from the UK, the Waldorf Curriculum, and the High Scope Curriculum. Thus, the government should simply release a list of approved curriculum.
Appropriate training of Teachers
Well-trained teachers are quintessential in each institution. And therefore, pre-schools are not different in this perspective. Teachers must possess sound knowledge and must have cognitive and meta-cognitive skills to make their teaching result-oriented. They should be able to understand tiny tots and make them understand what they want to ask from them.
Growing number of enrollment
The number of enrollment in pre-schools is increasing but all the parents remain unable to afford the fees of good pre-schools. To solve this problem, the government may given some incentives to parents in the form of some schemes for tax relief for women whose children are in pre-schools. This type of norm is in practice in western countries including the UK and the USA. Since there is a considerable lack of good pre-schools, the private sector should also take initiative by offering easy loans for establishment of pre-schools.
For safety purpose, there is need to set up separate areas for ECCE for the children up to the age of 6 years.