Education aims to give you a boost up the ladder of knowledge. Too often, it just gives you a cramp on one of its rungs.
Martin H. Fischer
It is universally accepted fact that the early years of childhood is critical for the growth of the individual and that early care and education leaves a long lasting effect on the individual. The fact that a child up to the age 0-8 yrs are the most captious period that determines their surviving and thriving in life and lays down the foundation for his/her learning and holistic development. It is during the early years that children develop the cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills that they need to succeed in life.
These early experiences are largely determined by supportive family and community care practices, proper nutrition and health care, learning opportunities, which in turn are dependent on enabling policies and investments for young children and families.
What is ECE?
Early Child Care and Education (ECE) has been the vital concept laying the foundation for the primary and pre-primary education most vital for the growth of the children. For the purpose, various policy framework has been developed and every endeavour has been made towards the achievement of this very zenith operations. The courtyard school was developed in the Fifth Five Year Plan naming it as a “anganwadi” has been a modest but a very appreciable step from the side of the Government towards Early Child Care and Education. Although, with time there has hardly been much progress in this field and the ECE has remained way behind the expected growth that it should had achieved.
The ECE is characterized by the features such as multilinguality, assessing special education need, nurturing the protective environment and having different social and cultural environments. The learning activity of the child in primary & pre-primary stage should able to develop the following ability among the kids:
- Sensual and perceptual Development.
- Cognitive Development.
- Physical, Health and Motor Development.
- Language Development.
- Development of creative and aesthetic appreciation.
- Personal, social and emotional development.
The guideline laid down by the Government has well placed all the requirements and tools to develop the ECE. The penetration of the anganwadi schools has been quite perceptible, however the quality of education that it provides seems to be far below the standard. The dismal state of quality education in the public sector has led to the invasion by the most powerful branded pre-primary & primary educational firms and they too failed to give the desired output.
The most important criteria for giving quality early education is the teachers and the care givers. Although, the teachers and care- giver is the most important factor but hardly any attention has been given to develop the skills of those who are fundamental to the growth and evolution of the budding individual to blossom in adult flower.
Commercialization of ECE
As discussed above, the pre-primary and primary education and care centres have mushroomed from the private sectors in the form of Big Brand with the only motive of making profits. These companies through their marketing strategies provoke people to take up these ventures but at times these people are not themselves well equipped/qualified. The once known as “temples of education” are now transformed in to a five star hotels. The intention is to impress the high flying parents who have the money to afford big fees but have no time for their children. This has encouraged some of the schools to go few steps further and they have hired the brand managers to market their schools. Every upcoming school boasts itself of having best of facilities and lavish environment for children. However, the most important thing is that some of the big name have developed a business model of franchisee where higher costs is involved in marketing strategies and paying paltry to the staffs and care giver. To avoid higher wages, they do even recruit untrained and unqualified teachers and staffs for whom it is a sort of part time income and not a dedicated educationists. These schools are depending on commercial agents of the education who are hardly ever bothered about the effective teaching of values and creating a real good school. They have a clear goal of making money. No one is talking about the life of a school. A good school does not emerge like a pre-packed frozen dinner stuck for few seconds in a microwave. A good school develops from the slow simmering of carefully blended ingredients. One consistent ingredient is the philosophy and culture within the school environment. The environment should be effective enough to formulate the norms, beliefs and values in to modes, standards and rules of operation. Hence, Commercialization is becoming a major concern which if not handled properly could lead to serious consequences. The professionals should be responsible while planning and developing for young children’s education programmes. They should be responsive towards child’s diverse needs since it is not possible to develop a quality program without understanding the basic needs of a child.
Other harms of present system
The recent surveys indicate that the curriculum for ECE advocated by National Policy of Education finds that in major cities, the children as young as 3 to 5 yrs are taught the syllabus of Class I and II for which they are not cognitively and physically matured. This is doing more harm than good to the Child Care and education system.
The present scenario of early child care and education is not in a very proper state. The public sector although is doing good job but is lagging behind whereas the private sector is not filling the gap but filling its own coffer. The need of the time is that the Government, Educationists and Parents should rise to the occasion and make the Early Child Care to prosper not only in papers but in reality.
Finally, we should remain vigil about what education we give to our child as if it goes wrong then the aftermath will be disaster in terms of what John F Kennedy has said
“ A child miseducated is a child lost”