Early Childhood Education
Vikramshila started its journey in 1989 with a short course of pre primary training to a group of teachers in rural West Bengal and thereafter started a 9 month diploma course on Early Childhood Learning in 1993 and ran this course for 12 years at the campus of St. Xaviers’ College. But over the years our focus had shifted to elementary education and towards strengthening of the government school systems although we had continued this work in a small way with children in our Naba Disha centres and our rural school in Bigha. It was therefore a pleasant comeback for us last year to get involved in the area of pre primary education in a big way. It is increasingly being recognized by policy makers that pre primary education is a pre requisite for achieving the goals of RTE Act as a result of which pre primary education is back in focus. Last year a big initiative was taken up by our state government to re-visit and revise the ECE component in the ICDS programme with support from Unicef and SSA, and we were lucky to be part of the process as a member of the task force formed by the government. We actively participated in a series of workshops that were organized by the government, and played a key role in drafting a new curriculum for the state. We were also given an opportunity to put up a poster at an International Conference organized by CECED in New Delhi on Early Childhood Education to showcase our work in this area. We look forward to deepen our engagement with early childhood education in the coming months and will keep you posted on all the developments.
Vikramshila’s experiments in curriculum development adhere to the central tenets of the NCF 2005, whereby knowledge construction takes place in the classroom moving from the sphere of “known to unknown”. Curricular frameworks follow an interdisciplinary approach in order to facilitate the creation of social awareness in a rational and scientific manner. This approach is applied in Vikramshila’s own School at Bigha village, and learning support centers in Kolkata called Nabadisha. The classroom processes engage the children in a way that enables them to become part of the knowledge construction, and not be kept only at the receiving end.
In aiming to develop the ability of a child to critically analyze and question the nature of society it observes around itself, Vikramshila has been successful in creating bright young critical, questioning sharp and skeptical children over the last decade in it’s own education programmes. In comparing the formal school approach to education, especially social science teaching in schools, the organization felt that there was much to be done. In the light of the ever-changing society, the high level of intolerance in the country, the fast paced lives all around us, it is the discipline of social science that can aid the child to make sense of the world around herself, step back and analyse as well as make informed choices. The importance of good social science curriculum is more so today than ever before.
The formal education system views Social Science in compartments of history, geography and civics – which inevitably become subjects of rote memorization. In order to change the way social science is taught in schools, Vikramshila has partnered with Wipro to create a new social science teaching model – through activities, lessons and chapters.
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