Social activist Shabana Azmi believes that ‘children’s issues must not remain invisible and unrecognised.’ She inaugurated the Early Childhood Association (ECA) conference, to underline issues facing India’s children- and therefore the ecosystem of Early Childhood Care & Education in India.
Azmi along with Dr. Swati Popat Vats, President of ECA Dr.Reeta Sonawat, Executive Director of ECA, Dr.Kamini Rege, Treasurer of ECA, Asha Varma Secretary of ECA and Rekha Shahani, Joint Secretary of ECA, launched the following;-
1. The Early Childhood Association Comprehensive Quality Audit tool for Preschools/ Kindergartens / ECE centres.
2. Teacher Training Module for Early Childhood Care and Education
3. Early Childhood Education Teacher Training Enrichment App
Shabana Azmi said, " I grew up in a humble background, and my mother and father both worked hard. Once when I got a zero, in my report card, my mother said, ‘she's not dumb, she's protesting.’ How many parents listen to their children today- like mine did? I run a school in Mizwan, Azamgadh. I have seen that we need to teach our children, compassion, mindfulness, emotional intelligence and the ability to work with people around them."
Dr Swati Popat Vats said, " The government should have "one nation one policy" for curriculum, age of entry, teacher training and assessment for early years. I humbly request Shabana Azmiji to represent us to the powers that be."
Key discussions - by the National Committee of The ECA and over 600 participants .
1 Schools from grade one have a board affiliation (though the boards in India affiliate only from grade 7 or 8) but the preschool is without any affiliation except in the case of IB (International Baccalaureate) that affiliates from Nursery onwards.
2 So with no affiliations or accreditations in place how can one be sure of quality of curriculum or safety or other developmentally appropriate standards that affect the development of young children? Can we have affiliation board/s for Early Childhood Education.
3 We have a well drafted Early Childhood Policy and Curriculum by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development? Our problem is that one ministry at the state level does not handle education. Early childhood care is handled by WCD but early childhood education is not looked into by anyone at the state level!
4 This leaves no choice- so preschools have to make their own curriculum or become ‘preparatory centers’ for first standard . Toddlers as young as two years are made to hold pencils and go over dotted lines in worksheets. Three year olds are made to recite rhymes in front of a class and then graded and marked on their ‘performance’. Children are taught number 1 and then number 7, skipping the rest in between because standing line numbers should be taught together! Completely overlooking the fact that letters need not be taught in the A to Z format but numbers need to be taught in the order of counting or else children will not have a foundation base of what number comes before, after etc. This is the confused state of preschool curriculum.
5 If you ask the preschools they blame it on parents, it’s the parents that want their child to read and write at an early age.
6 Having an affiliation board for preschools in our country would be a logical solution that would benefit all three stakeholders- children, parents and preschools. The government can still license the schools or take care of the NOC requirements but the curriculum, philosophy and other important aspects can be done by the affiliation/accreditation board of ECE
7 So what would be the parameters of this affiliation of ECE centers? Globally the largest association that affiliates most of the preschools in USA is naeyc.org (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
Early Childhood Association (www.eca-india.org) now has a quality audit tool and has quality audited more than 400 private preschools in India, so definitely they can take it up on a larger scale. An updated version was launched at the conference today. (attached)
Several awards were given at the Early Childhood Association recognizing the exemplary contributions of personalities doing exceptional work in the field of early childhood education whether it is safety, inclusive education or overall contribution.
1 Felicitating the author - Ms Neeha Gupta- youth ambassador Kailash Satyarthi Childrens Foundation.
2 Most Committed NGO in Early Childhood Education - CANKIDS, Childs rights foundation, Life Trust.
3 Most Committed journalist in Early Childhood Care and Education- Ms Vinaya Patil - Sakal News - Pune and Ms Jhinuk Mazumdar - The Telegraph - Kolkatta
4 Exemplary contribution in Early Childhood Care and Education - Ms Zarin Malva and Ms Lina Ashar
5 Exemplary contribution towards Safety in Early years- IPS Ms Aparajita Rai and Betterplace
6 Most committed CDPO - Preeti Ben ( Bhavnagar)
7 Most committed supervisor from ICDS - Laxmi Bai ( Telangana)
The Early Childhood Association ( ECA ) is set up with the vision that all the preschools, balwadis, N.G.O's, children's activity classes, parents, student teachers, media houses, companies that deal with children's products, in short everyone connected to young children can all come together to advocate, discuss and bring about a change in the quality of care, development and learning in early childhood in India.