By Ms. Mona Singh, Vice President, Sesame Schoolhouse
Early childhood sets the foundations for life. It is a highly sensitive period marked by rapid transformations in physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. Research has proven that the brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second before the age of 5. Access to high quality early childhood education (ECE) at this age effectively impacts the learning abilities of children later during their primary, middle and higher education.
As per the Census 2011, there are 164.48 million children in India between 0-6 years of age. Recognizing the need to provide quality pre-primary programmes, a number of constitutional and policy provisions have been made by the Government such as the 86th Constitutional Amendment which introduced Article 21 A on the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) for children aged 6-14 years. The Government of India recognizes the significance of early childhood care and education (ECCE), which has been included as a constitutional provision through the amended Article 45 (The Constitution Act, 2002) which directs that “The State shall endeavour to provide ECCE for all children until they complete the age of six years”i.
But early childhood education is not recognized as a compulsory provision by RTE, though it urges states to provide free pre-school education for children above three years. The Government of India also approved the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy in 2013. However, despite these initiatives, there are still substantial numbers of children not enrolled in preschools, or those who show poor learning skills in early grades. Hence, building school readiness is still a huge challenge in India.
A vast body of research has demonstrated that children who participate in good quality early childhood programmes tend to be more successful in later school, are more competent socially and emotionally, and show better verbal, intellectual and physical development during early childhood than children who are not enrolled in high quality programmes1. Well-designed ECCE programmes can significantly enhance young children’s well-being in these formative years and in the future, complementing the care they receive at home. Programmes that combine nutrition, health, care and education have a positive impact on cognitive outcomes. Preschools act as an important medium here to provide ECE to the child and to make them school ready.
It is paramount that education of little children be not limited to teaching them the alphabet and numbers. Encouraging and practicing rote learning to score grades is definitely not the way forward. It limits their power of observation, analysis and rational deduction, skills that we need all through our lives irrespective of education and profession. Hence, the need is for a preschool that nurtures curiosity.
Sesame Street Preschool was set up with the aim to change the paradigm of preschool education in India – by offering high quality educational resources and facilities to children across the country. We are setting a new standard for early childhood education through our unique preschool and afterschool programmes. It is a learning experience brought to life by the fun and furry characters of Sesame Street and its Indian adaptation Galli Galli Sim Sim, India’s first educational programme just for children. Our unique brand of age-appropriate education puts kids at the centre of everything, from playful project-based activities to an environment made for rampant imagination. The curriculum and teaching methodology here follows a unique six-step procedure towards teaching a concept to a child through introduction, recall, demonstration, reinforcement, reflection and application. And the results are dramatic: children who attend are better-rounded, better adjusted, and more confident. In short, they’re better equipped for school and for life.
[i] http://wcd.nic.in/schemes/ECCE/National%20ECCE%20Policy%20draft%20(1).pdf [accessed on 22 July 2015]