The importance of Early Childhood Education is well researched and evident in national and global researches and policy initiatives. In India though ECE is not recognized as a compulsory provision by the Right to Education Act, it nonetheless urges states to provide free pre-school education for children above three years. Despite the recognition of the importance of ECE, and the massive ICDS programme of the GOI, the challenges in implementation still remain. There are still substantial numbers of children not enrolled in preschools. Where enrolled, school readiness levels across states and across models are low particularly in cognitive & language skills. The findings reflect the importance of a developmentally appropriate curriculum for which the broad essentials that emerged are- a democratic, child friendly teacher, trained and mentored not only in age appropriate and play based activities for ECE, but in planning and classroom organization and management of a well-balanced ECE curriculum, supported by appropriate physical infrastructure.
In this backdrop, over the last three years, in partnership with UNICEF, Vikramshila, as technical partner provided support to the State Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare in developing a child friendly Early Childhood Education curriculum and handbook, Pre-School Education kit, and offered professional development courses for the master trainers across the State. The first 2 phases of work in ECE, has shown good results at the level of creating a standardized curriculum based on international and national policy guidelines, the training and capacity building of 400 SRG and DRG members as well as creating a substantial number of model AWCs. These initiatives have strengthening the functioning of the Anganwadi system. The idea now is to create model AWCs in all districts, ensure capacity of the government functionaries at all levels and build quality control measures to ensure sustainability of good impact that is now visible.