Sunday, September 22, 2019

4.5. Education in the local language/ mother tongue; multilingualism and the power of language (draft NEP 2019)

Extract of pages 79 to 87 of draft National Education Policy 2019

The issues regarding language are most fundamental to education. Language is a medium of expression of the individual, society and its collective continuity in culture, in addition to being a tool for communication. Language has a direct bearing as the mediator in all cognitive and social capacities, including in knowledge acquisition and production. The science of child development and language acquisition suggests that young children become literate in (as a language) and learn best through (as a medium of instruction) their “local language” i.e. the language spoken at home.Children between the ages of 2 and 8 also have an extremely flexible capacity to learn multiple languages, which is a crucial social capacity that must be harnessed, in addition to the well-established cognitive benefits of multilingualism.

Since children learn languages most quickly between 2-8 years, and multilingualism has great cognitive benefits for students, children will be immersed in three languages early on, from the Foundational Stage.

Education in the home language/mother tongue
It is well-understood that young children learn and grasp nontrivial concepts most quickly in their home language/mother tongue. The Policy further recognises the large numbers of students going to school to classes that are being conducted in a language that they do not understand, causing them to fall behind before they even start learning. Thus there is a strong need for classes in early years to be conducted in students’ local languages. On the other hand, textbooks (especially science textbooks) written in India’s vernaculars at the current time are generally not nearly of the same quality as those written in English. It is important that local languages, including tribal languages, are respected and that excellent textbooks are developed in local languages, when possible, and outstanding teachers are deployed to teach in these languages.
P4.5.1. Home language/mother tongue as medium of instruction: When possible,the medium of instruction - at least until Grade 5 but preferably till at least Grade 8 - will be the home language/mother tongue/local language. Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. High quality textbooks, including in science, will be made available in home languages as is needed and feasible, e.g. via the Indian Translation and Interpretation Mission (see P4.8.4) or its State counterparts. In cases where such textbook material is not available, the language of transaction between teachers and students will still remain the home language when possible, even if textbooks are, e.g. in the State/regional language.

The school education system will make its best effort to use the regionally preponderant home language as the medium of instruction. However, the system should also make full efforts to establish an adequate number of schools having medium of instruction catering to significant linguistic minorities in that region.

P4.5.2. Bilingual approach for those whose language is different from the primary
medium of instruction: The curriculum will encourage a flexible language approach in the classroom. Teachers will be encouraged to use a bilingual approach, including bilingual teaching-learning materials, with those students whose home language may be different from the medium of instruction to ensure smoother transition from the home language to the medium of instruction.

P4.5.3. Exposure to three or more languages in schools: To leverage the enhanced
language-learning abilities of young children, all students from pre-school and Grade 1 onwards will be exposed to three or more languages with the aim of developing speaking proficiency and interaction, and the ability to recognise scripts and read basic text, in all three languages by Grade 3. In terms of writing, students will begin writing primarily in the medium of instruction until Grade 3, after which writing with additional scripts will also be introduced gradually.

P4.5.4. Standardising sign language: Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardised
across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment. Local sign languages will be respected and taught as well where possible and relevant.

Multilingualism and the power of language
Multilinguism is a necessity of India (as of much of the developed world), and must be considered a boon and an opportunity for learning and expanding one’s horizons rather than a burden. Children learn languages extremely quickly when immersed early, and multilingual children in studies around the world have also been found to learn faster and be placed better later in life than those who are unilingual. It enriches them intellectually and culturally, and allows them, throughout their lives, to think in more than one way, by being equipped with the structures of expression, vocabulary, idioms, and literature of more than one language. A multilingual India is better educated and also better nationally integrated. Moreover, India’s languages are some of the richest, most scientific, and most expressive in the world, with a huge body of ancient as well as modern literature that help form India’s national identity.

Despite the rich, expressive and scientific nature of Indian languages, there has been an unfortunate trend in schools and society towards English as a medium of instruction and as a medium of conversation. Logically speaking, of course, English has no advantage over other languages in expressing thoughts; on the contrary, Indian languages have been specifically developed over centuries and generations to express thoughts in the Indian scenario, climate, and culture. Moreover, Indian languages are very scientifically structured, and do not have unphonetic, complicated spellings of words and numerous grammatical exceptions; they also have a vast and highly sophisticated ancient, medieval, and modern literature in the Indian context; as a consequence, they have a certain home-feel and “apnaapan” quality in the Indian context, making them easier, more relatable, and more relevant for children and adults alike to learn and speak, and with which to learn and express deep concepts across school subjects.

What then is the reason that English is being pursued by so many in India as a medium of instruction and of conversation, when most other technologically advanced countries of the world have naturally kept their own native languages for these purposes? The answer, of course, is that, since Independence, the economic elite of India have adopted English as their language; only about 15% of the country speaks English, and this population almost entirely coincides with the economic elite (compared with, e.g. 54% of Indians who speak Hindi). Furthermore, the elite often use English (whether deliberately or inadvertently) as a test for entry into the elite class and for the jobs that they control: English is regularly used by the elite as a criterion to determine whether someone is “educated”, and perhaps most unfortunately of all, as a prerequisite for jobs - even in cases of jobs where knowledge of English is entirely irrelevant. This sad scenario and attitude (again, it may well
be inadvertent) has resulted in the marginalisation of large sections of society based on language, keeping them out of higher-paying jobs and the higher socio-economic strata.

This attitude has kept the elite class and the jobs they control segregated from the economically weaker sections of society, which of course contain many hardworking, smart, high quality, highly skilled, and educated people who happen not to speak the language of the colonists and current elite. It has created an unnatural aspiration of parents for their children to concentrate on learning and speaking languages that are not their own.

For true equity and inclusion in society, and in the education and employment systems across the country, this power structure of language must be stopped at the earliest. A major effort in this direction must be taken by the elite and the educated to make increased use of languages native to India, and give these languages the space and respect that they deserve (particularly in hiring, societal events, and in schools and all educational institutions, as well as in daily conversation wherever possible). An importance and prominence must be returned to Indian languages that has been lost in recent years. Language teaching jobs must be created in schools and universities across the country to help connect together Indians from differing geographical areas as well as from
differing socio-economic strata.

In particular, taking into account the enhanced abilities of young children to learn languages, and to help break the current divide between the economic elite and the rest of the country, in addition to teaching languages native to India, English must also be available and taught in a high quality manner at all government and non-government schools. The emphasis should be on functionality and fluency. Meanwhile the medium of instruction, and the depth of study of literature, arts, and culture in the Indian context should be conducted and explored to the extent possible through the local language/
mother tongue and other Indian languages.

We further observe that English has not become the international language that it was expected to become back in the 1960s. As already noted, most advanced countries use their own native languages as the languages of interaction and transaction, and it is suggested that India works towards the same, or its rich language and cultural heritage, along with the rich power of expression, may slowly be lost. It is also strongly recommended that interactions between people within India be conducted in languages native to India; thus Indian languages must be heavily promoted again and with new vigour (see Chapter 22).

Of course, English has become an international common language in certain realms such as science and technology research, e.g. most high level scientific journals around the world at the current time publish predominantly in English. For this reason, it is also important for children (especially those who intend to pursue scientific subjects at a postgraduate level) to become bilingual in science and to be able to communicate science fluently both in their home/local language and in English. This is in concurrence with the practice in all technologically advanced countries.

P4.5.5. Continuation of the three language formula in schools: The three language formula, followed since the adoption of the National Policy on Education 1968, and endorsed in the National Policy on Education 1986/1992 as well as the NCF 2005, will be continued, keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions and aspirations of the people, regions, and the Union. However, because research now clearly shows that children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8, and moreover that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to students, children will now be immersed in three languages early on, starting from the Foundational Stage onwards.

P4.5.6. Implementation of the three-language formula: The three-language formula will need to be implemented in its spirit throughout the country, promoting multilingual communicative abilities for a multilingual country. However, it must be better implemented in certain States, particularly Hindi speaking States; for purposes of national integration, schools in Hindi speaking areas should also offer and teach Indian languages from other parts of India. This would help raise the status of all Indian languages, the teachers of such languages, and the literature of such languages, and would open positions and increase opportunities for language teachers across the country; it would of course also truly expand horizons and enlarge the range of opportunities for graduating students.

There will be a major effort from both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around  the country, and in particular all Schedule 8 languages. States, especially States from different regions of India, may enter bilateral agreements to hire teachers in large numbers from each other, in order to satisfy the three-language formula in their respective States, and also to encourage the study of Indian languages across the country.

P4.5.7. Recruitment of teachers for language teaching: In localities where there is a shortage of teachers who speak a given language, special efforts will be made, and special schemes rolled out, to recruit teachers (including retired teachers) to that locality who speak that language. There will be a major nationwide effort and initiative for the development of teachers of Indian languages.

P4.5.8. Learning science bilingually: Students whose medium of instruction is the local/home language will begin to learn science bilingually in Grade 8 or earlier, so that by the end of Grade 10 they can speak about science both in their home language and English.

This will enable students to think about scientific concepts in more than one way, and enable future scientists to talk about their work and about science to their families and to local news channels, write about their work for regional newspapers, and speak to children about their work in their home States and towns to help inspire the next generation.

Being science-bilingual in this way is indeed a boon; most Nobel Prize winners in science indeed report being able to think and speak about science in more than one language. In the current Indian system, many scientists have complained about their inability to think and speak about their subject in their mother tongue, and how this has hindered both their own thinking and their outreach capabilities in their communities.

P4.5.9. Flexibility in the three-language formula: In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school (see P4.9.5). Since the modular Board Examinations for language proficiency will indeed test only for basic proficiency in each language, such a change in language choice in Grade 6 would certainly be feasible if the student so desires and would in such cases be supported by teachers and the schooling system. Additional choices of languages would therefore be offered in middle school
for this purpose of choice and flexibility.

P4.5.10. Foreign language offerings in secondary school: A choice of foreign language(s) (e.g. French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese) would be offered and available to interested students to choose as elective(s) during secondary school. Such an elective would indeed be an elective and not in lieu of the three-language formula. Because of the need for excellent translators in the country, one aspect of teaching foreign languages will include translation exercises between Indian and foreign languages.

P4.5.11. Approach to language learning and teaching: During the Foundational stage of education (pre-primary school to Grade 2), languages will be taught in a fun and interactive style with an emphasis on functionality and interaction (Samskrita Bharati and Alliance Francaise, which are organisations in India that teach Sanskrit and French, respectively, may serve as excellent models for such language teaching, and which may be adapted to other languages if desired). Language teaching would consist primarily of conversation (with a knowledge of alphabets and reading basic words) in the Foundational stage. It would move on to more sophisticated reading and basic writing abilities in each language’s script in the Preparatory stage. Writing will be incorporated more extensively during the middle stage. Language teaching at all stages will include extensive speaking exercises (especially in the home/local language in the beginning) to increase students’ power of expression in each language.

In addition, the home/local language and/or second language will be enhanced with the reading of and analysis of uplifting literature from the Indian subcontinent, ancient to modern, and by authors from all walks of life (see also P4.5.12-P4.5.16.); these languages will also be enhanced through other arts, such as by playing and discussing music or film excerpts, or engaging in theatre in these languages. The incorporation of literature and other arts relating to language will be incorporated at all stages as appropriate, but particularly in depth during the secondary stage.

When teaching the State language and its literature, other forms of the language and other languages predominant in the region or variations thereof may also receive suitable attention for inclusivity, interest, enjoyment, and enrichment (e.g. excerpts from the rich traditions of Khariboli, Awadhi, Maithili, Braj, and Urdu literature may be included in Hindi courses for inclusivity and enrichment).

Exposure to Languages of India: Modern and
As so many developed countries around the world have amply demonstrated, being well educated in one’s language, culture, and traditions is not a detriment but indeed a huge benefit to educational, social, and technological advancement. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that India’s languages, art, and culture be given a prominence again that has been lost in recent years. These cultural resources of one’s country help make the people human beings equipped with cultural values, identity, and expression, which is necessary to work efficiently, creatively, and with happiness.

India’s languages are among the richest, most scientific, most beautiful, and most expressive in the world, with a huge body of ancient as well as modern literature (both prose and poetry), along with films, and music that help form India’s national identity and wealth. For purposes of cultural enrichment as well as national integration, all young Indians should be aware of the rich and vast array of languages of their country, and the treasures that they and their literatures contain.

P4.5.12. Course on the Languages of India: Every student in the country will take a fun course on “The Languages of India” sometime in Grades 6-8. In this course, students will learn about the remarkable unity of most of the major Indian languages, starting with their common phonetic and scientifically arranged alphabets and scripts, their common grammatical structures, their origins and sources of vocabularies from Sanskrit and other classical languages, as well as their rich inter-influences and differences. They will also learn what geographical areas speak which languages, get a sense of the nature and structure of tribal languages. They will learn to say a few lines in every major language of India (greetings and other useful or fun phrases), and a bit about the literature (e.g. simple poetry or major uplifting works from a representative and diverse set of authors) of each. Such a class would give them both a sense of the unity and the beautiful cultural heritage and diversity of India, and would be a wonderful icebreaker their entire lives as they meet people from other parts of India.

NCERT, together with SCERTs and language experts from across the country, will be tasked with designing this important course.

Incorporation of relevant excerpts from great works of Indian literature throughout the curriculum: Excerpts from works of great Indian authors, classical and modern, in all Indian languages, suitably translated into the medium of instruction, will be incorporated as relevant throughout the curriculum across all subjects in order to expose students to great inspirational writings of India (e.g. suitable excerpts from works of Shri Rabindranath Tagore may be incorporated in classes on philosophy, writing, ethics, or history, etc.). See also P4.5.14-P4.5.15.

P4.5.13. Classical languages and literatures of India. The importance, relevance, and beauty of the classical languages and literature of India cannot be overlooked. Sanskrit, while also an important modern (Schedule 8) language, possesses a classical literature that is greater in volume than that of Latin and Greek put together, containing vast treasures of mathematics, philosophy, grammar, music, politics, medicine, architecture, metallurgy, drama, poetry, storytelling and more, written by people of various religions as well as non-religious people, and by people from all walks of life and a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds over thousands of years.

India also has an extremely rich literature in other classical languages, including classical Tamil, as well as classical Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia, in addition to Pali, Persian, and Prakrit; these classical languages and their literatures too must be preserved for their richness and for the pleasure and enrichment of posterity. When India becomes a fully developed country, the next generation will want to be able to partake in and be enriched as humans by India’s extensive and beautiful classical literature which contain great intellectual and cultural treasures.

P4.5.14. Study of Sanskrit and knowledge of its extensive literature: Sanskrit has been
a great repository of knowledge pertaining to numerous subjects including science, mathematics, medicine, law, economics, politics, music, linguistics, drama, storytelling, architecture, and more, by authors from all walks of life. Sanskrit (and Prakrit) has played a great role in the Indian tradition of the quest for knowledge, including the study of the 64 kalas or liberal arts.

Considering the special importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages, and its unique contribution to knowledge development in as well as the cultural unity of the country, facilities for the study of Sanskrit, its scientific nature, and including samplings of diverse ancient and medieval writings in Sanskrit from a diverse set of authors (e.g. the plays of Kalidasa and Bhasa), will be made widely available in schools and higher educational institutions.

Where relevant, history-changing Sanskrit writings will be integrated suitably in various school subjects as well as in literature and writing classes (e.g. Bhaskara’s poems on mathematics and puzzles that help to make the study of mathematics more engaging, the incorporation of relevant Panchatantra stories in ethics classes, etc.).

Sanskrit will be offered at all levels of school and higher education as one of the optional languages on par with all Schedule 8 languages. Sanskrit textbooks at the Foundational and Middle school level may be rewritten in Simple Standard Sanskrit (SSS) in order to teach Sanskrit through Sanskrit (STS) and make its study truly enjoyable.

P4.5.15. Make available courses on all classical languages of India: In addition to Sanskrit, the teaching of other classical languages and literatures of India, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, will also be widely available in schools, to ensure that these languages and literatures stay alive and vibrant, especially in States where they may be best taught and nurtured. Classical writings in these and other languages across India from diverse sets of authors will also be studied and suitably incorporated throughout the curriculum and in literature and writing classes to inspire students with the rich long-standing traditions and writings of India (e.g. Sangam poetry in classical Tamil, the Jataka tales in Pali, the works of Sarala Dasa in classical Odia, excepts from Raghavanka’s epic Harishchandra Kavya in Kannada, Amir Khusro’s works in Persian, and Kabir’s poems in Hindi, etc.).

P4.5.16. A two-year relevant course on a classical language: For the enrichment of our children, and for the preservation of these rich languages and their artistic treasures, all students in all schools, public or private, will take at least two years of a classical language of India in Grades 6-8, with the option to continue through secondary education and university. In order to make such courses in classical languages more enjoyable and relevant, relevant great works of literature that are easy to read, enjoyable, and relatable, and written by authors from diverse sections of society, will be read, and their connection to the phonetics and etymology of, and their influence on, modern languages will be discussed.

Students who may have opted for Sanskrit as one of their chosen languages in the three-language formula may instead take an additional modern or classical Indian language or literature class for two years in lieu of the classical language requirement. For example, students in Hindi-speaking States who are taking Hindi, Sanskrit, and English as their three languages could take two years of a language from another part of India (e.g. Tamil) in order to satisfy this language requirement.

Friday, July 26, 2019

1. Early Childhood Care and Education: The Foundation of Learning (draft NEP 2019)

Copied pages 45 to 53 of original NEP draft 2019 document.

Objective: Every child in the age range of 3-6 years has access
to free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care
and education by 2025.

The learning process for a child commences immediately at birth. Evidence
from neuroscience shows that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain
development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance
of developmentally appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s
early years to promote sustained and healthy brain development and growth.
Indeed, analysis of brain scans of children who encountered various levels of
neglect or deprivation in their early years revealed unfortunate deficiencies
in the development of critical areas of the brain, and corresponding adverse
effects on cognitive and emotional processing. Excellent care, nurture,
nutrition, physical activity, psycho-social environment, and cognitive and
emotional stimulation during a child’s first six years are thus considered
extremely critical for ensuring proper brain development and, consequently,
desired learning curves over a person’s lifetime.

This evidence from cognitive science is fully borne out by numerous national
and international studies on the learning outcomes of children having
various levels of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). A study
conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training
(NCERT) titled “The impact of pre-school education on retention in primary
grades” (1992) on 30,000 children illustrated strong and direct correlations
between exposure to pre-school education and retention rates, attendance
rates, and most significantly learning outcomes in primary school and beyond.
Various global studies have also revealed longer-term impacts: quality preschool
education is strongly correlated with higher incomes and rates of home
ownership, and lower rates of unemployment, crime, and arrest. In terms of the
growth of the national economy, it has been estimated that the development
of a strong ECCE programme is among the very best investments that India
could make, with an expected return of `10 or more for every `1 invested. In
summary, it is recognised that investment in ECCE gives the best chance for
children to grow up into good, moral, thoughtful, creative, empathetic, and
productive human beings.

Studies tracking student learning outcomes clearly demonstrate that children
who start out behind tend to stay behind throughout their school years. At
the current time, there is a severe learning crisis in India, where children are
enrolled in primary school but are failing to attain even basic skills such as
foundational literacy and numeracy. A major part of this crisis appears to be
occurring well before children even enter Grade 1. Far too many 6+ year olds are
entering Grade 1 with very limited ECCE. Furthermore, far too many children
are enrolling in Grade 1 before the age of 6, due to a lack of any suitable preprimary
options; these are often the children that remain the most behind in
primary school and beyond. In fact, during the academic year 2016-17, over 70
lakh children were enrolled in Grade 1 prior to the age of 6 (Unified District
Information System for Education (U-DISE) 2016-17).

This tragic deficiency in grade school-preparedness is particularly marked
between advantaged and disadvantaged groups. This is because students from
more advantaged families have greater access to role models, print awareness,
language fluency in the school language, and strong learning environments
at home, in addition to better nutrition, healthcare, and of course access to
pre-school education. Investment in ECCE has the potential to give all young
children such access in an engaging and holistic way, thereby allowing all
children to participate and flourish in the educational system throughout their
lives. ECCE is perhaps the greatest and most powerful equaliser.
For all these reasons - from brain development to school-preparedness,
improved learning outcomes, equality and justice, employability, and the
prosperity and economic growth of the country - India absolutely must invest
in accessible and quality ECCE for all children.

What does quality ECCE entail? During the ages prior to 3 years, quality ECCE
includes the health and nutrition of both the mother and the child, but also
crucially includes cognitive and emotional stimulation of the infant through
talking, playing, moving, listening to music and sounds, and stimulating all
the other senses particularly sight and touch. Exposure to languages, numbers,
and simple problem-solving is also considered important during this period.
From 3 to 6 years of age, ECCE includes continued healthcare and nutrition,
but also crucially self-help skills (such as “getting ready on one’s own”), motor
skills, cleanliness, the handling of separation anxiety, being comfortable around
one’s peers, moral development (such as knowing the difference between
“right” and “wrong”), physical development through movement and exercise,
expressing and communicating thoughts and feelings to parents and others,
sitting for longer periods of time in order to work on and complete a task,
and generally forming all-round good habits.

Supervised play-based education, in groups and individually, is considered
particularly important during this age range to naturally build up the child’s
innate abilities and all-important lifelong skills of cooperation, teamwork,
social interaction, compassion, equity, inclusiveness, communication,
cultural appreciation, playfulness, curiosity, creativity, as well as the ability
to successfully and respectfully interact with teachers, fellow students, staff,
and others. ECCE during these years also entails learning about alphabets,
languages, numbers, counting, colours, shapes, drawing/painting, indoor
and outdoor play, puzzles and logical thinking, visual art, craft, drama,
puppetry, music, and movement.

Over 85% of cumulative brain
development occurs prior to the age of six.

How should India best deliver quality ECCE? The most current research in
ECCE shows that children under the age of 8 do not tend to follow the linear,
age-based educational trajectories that are prescribed to them by policy or
by any preset timelines for curriculum; as a result, a large proportion of
children in pre-school and Grades 1 and 2 are not receiving developmentally
appropriate education suited to their needs. It is only at about the age of 8
that children adapt to more prescripted learning.

Therefore, it is important that children of ages 3-8 have access to a flexible,
multifaceted, multilevel, play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based
education. It also becomes natural then to view this period, from up to
three years of pre-school (ages 3-6) to the end of Grade 2 (age 8), as a single
pedagogical unit called the “Foundational Stage”. It is necessary, therefore,
to develop and establish such an integrated foundational curricular and
pedagogical framework, and corresponding teacher preparation, for this
critical Foundational Stage of a child’s development.

At the current time, most early childhood education is delivered in the
form of Anganwadis and private pre-schools, with a very small proportion
coming from pre-schools run by NGOs and other organisations. Where
well supported, the Anganwadi system of pre-primary education, under the
aegis of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), has worked with
great success in many parts of India, especially with respect to healthcare
for mothers and infants. These centres have truly helped support parents
and build communities; they have served to provide critical nutrition and
health awareness, immunisation, basic health check-ups, and referrals and
connections to local public health systems, thus preparing crores of children
for healthy development and therefore far more productive lives. However,
while providing some essential cognitive stimulation, play, and day care, most
Anganwadis have remained relatively light on the educational aspects of ECCE.
Anganwadis are currently quite deficient in supplies and infrastructure for
education; as a result, they tend to contain more children in the 2-4 year age
range and fewer in the educationally critical 4-6 year age range; they also have
few teachers trained in or specially dedicated to early childhood education.
Meanwhile, private and other pre-schools have largely functioned as downward
extensions of primary school. Though providing better infrastructure and
learning supplies for children, they consist primarily of formal teaching
and rote memorisation, with high Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs) and limited
developmentally appropriate play-based and activity-based learning; they
too generally contain teachers untrained in early childhood education. They
generally are very limited on the health aspects, and do not usually cater to
younger children in the age range of 0-4 years.

A recent “Early Childhood Education Impact” study (2017) undertaken by
Ambedkar University, Delhi, showed that a significant proportion of children
in India who completed pre-primary education, public or private, did not have
the needed school readiness competencies when they joined primary school.
Thus, in addition to problems of access, quality related deficiencies such as
developementally inappropriate curriculum, the lack of qualified and trained
educators, and less-than-optimal pedagogy have remained major challenges
for many if not most existing early childhood learning programmes.

The Policy therefore focuses on developing an excellent curricular and
pedagogical framework for early childhood education by NCERT in accordance
with the above guidelines, which would be delivered through a significantly
expanded and strengthened system of early childhood educational institutions,
consisting of Anganwadis, pre-primary schools/sections co-located with
existing primary schools, and stand-alone pre-schools, all of which will employ
workers/teachers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE.

The numerous rich traditions of India over millennia in ECCE, involving art,
stories, poetry, songs, gatherings of relatives, and more, that exist throughout
India must also be incorporated in the curricular and pedagogical framework
of ECCE to impart a sense of local relevance, enjoyment, excitement, culture,
and sense of identity and community. The traditional roles of families in
raising, nurturing, and educating children also must be strongly supported
and integrated. In particular, family leave policies that afford women and men
the ability to tend to their children in their earliest years of life are critical in
enabling families to fulfil these traditional roles.

To reinforce the public system’s commitment to provide quality early childhood
care and education to all children before the age of 6, the Policy suggests that
ECCE be included as an integral part of the RTE Act. The 86th Amendment
of the Constitution in 2002 in fact provided an unambiguous commitment
for universalisation of ECCE by directing the “State to provide ECCE to all
children until they complete the age of six years”. Section 11 of the RTE Act also
already discussed the possible public provision of early childhood education:
“With a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary
education and to provide ECCE for all children until they complete the age of
six years, the appropriate Government may make necessary arrangement for
providing free pre-school education for such children”. For the sake of the
country and her children, it is time to ensure that these critical commitments
for attaining quality ECCE for all are fulfilled as early as possible.

Specific policy initiatives to attain quality early childhood education for all
by 2025 will be as follows:

P1.1. Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Education:
The mandate of the NCERT will be expanded to include the development of
a Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Education, in
accordance with the above principles and guidelines.

The Framework will consist of two parts:

a. The first part will be a framework of guidelines for 0-3 year olds - intended
for parents as well as Anganwadi teachers/workers - for appropriate
cognitive stimulation of infants and young children in this age range.
The guidelines would include how to make simple low-cost learning aids
(such as baby rattles using a plastic bottle and colorful hard candy; simple
melodic and percussion instruments that can be hit with sticks; hats
and boats made from folding newspaper; etc.); these could form craft
exercises for children in Anganwadis, and also be distributed to parents
in the community.

b. The second part will be an educational framework for 3-8 year olds
(Foundational Stage) - intended for parents as well as for Anganwadis, preprimary
schools, and Grades 1 and 2 - consisting of a flexible, multilevel,
play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based system of learning that
aims to teach young children alphabets, numbers, basic communication
in the local language/mother tongue and other languages, colours, shapes,
sounds, movement, games, elements of drawing, painting, music, and
the local arts, as well as various socio-emotional skills such as curiosity,
patience, teamwork, cooperation, interaction, and empathy required for
school-preparedness. The framework would also include suggestions
regarding exercises, puzzles, colouring books, connect-the-dots drawings,
stories, rhymes, songs, games, etc. that would help in developing children
in the Foundational Stage in a holistic way.

Because children learn languages most quickly during the period of
0-3 years and during the Foundational Stage of 3-8 years - and because
learning languages is an extremely important aspect of children’s cognitive
development-a key part of the Framework will be aimed at instilling excellent
multilingual skills in children as early as is possible and developmentally
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), and State and local variations
of the Framework, will also extensively incorporate the numerous rich
traditions of India with respect to ECCE - including national as well as more
localised arts, songs, stories, rhymes, puzzles, riddles, games, knowledge,
customs, and innovations.

P1.2. Significant expansion and strengthening of facilities for early childhood
education: The new Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early
Childhood Education will be delivered to children up to the age of 6 via a four pronged

a. Strengthening and expansion of the Anganwadi system to include
a robust education component: Anganwadi Centres will be heavily
built up to deal with the educational needs of children up to the age of
6. In particular, Anganwadi workers trained in techniques of cognitive
stimulation for infants and of play-based and multilevel education for
3-6 year olds will be stationed across the country, so that there is at least
one such worker at every Anganwadi. Each Anganwadi will be provided
with excellent educational material as per the curricular and pedagogical
framework for early childhood education. Additional quality centres will
also be built around the country as needed to ensure that every mother
and child has free and easy access to Anganwadi Centres. Anganwadis will
aim to become outstanding educational centres that also contain a strong
health and nutrition component.

b. Co-locating Angawadis with primary schools: When possible, co-locating
Anganwadis with existing primary schools will provide further benefits to
parents and children, both from the comprehensive services provided by
the Anganwadi and the improved opportunity for children to learn in a
cohesive educational environment with their siblings and peers at primary
schools. Co-location of Anganwadis and primary schools will be considered
a high priority during location planning for new Anganwadis and primary
schools, as this will help to build better and stronger school communities.

c. Co-locating pre-schools with primary schools where possible:
Alternatively, up to three years of quality pre-school for ages 3-6 will be
added to existing or new primary schools. Such composite schools will also
be supported by a package of health, nutrition, and growth-monitoring
services, especially for the pre-school students. The care and educational
requirements of 0-3 year olds in the region would continue to be handled
by neighborhood Anganwadis in such cases.

d. Building stand-alone pre-schools: High quality stand-alone pre-schools
will be built in areas where existing Anganwadis and primary schools are
not able to take on the educational requirements of children in the age
range of 3-6 years. Such pre-schools would again be supported by the health,
nutrition, and growth-monitoring services as required for children in this
age range.

All four of the above approaches will be implemented in accordance with local
needs and feasibility of geography and infrastructure. Overall, the goal will be
to ensure that every child of 0-6 years has free and easy access to quality ECCE.
This will require suitable monitoring of quality and outcomes for each of the
four methods and in each State.

Due to the equalising nature of ECCE, special attention and high priority will
be given to those districts or locations that are particularly socio-economically

Because of the multi-level, play-based nature of the curriculum and pedagogy
framework for early childhood education in the age range 3-8 years, no hard
separation of ages in this range would be required for Anganwadis and preschools
(including when they are co-located with primary schools), except as
needed for social reasons or due to limitations of institutional infrastructure.

All Anganwadi Centres and pre-primary schools will be linked, if not
physically then formally/pedagogically, to a primary school in the area, as
the lowest rung in the School Complex (see P7.3.1).

Universal access to quality early
childhood education is perhaps the best
investment that India can make for our
children’s and our nation’s future.

P1.3. Oversight of Early Childhood Education by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development: All aspects of early childhood education will
come under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resource Development
(MHRD), in order to ensure continuity of curriculum and pedagogy from preprimary
school to primary school, and to ensure due attention nationwide
to the foundational aspects of education.

A detailed plan outlining the operational and financial implications of the
integration of early childhood education with the school education system
will be developed in consultation with the Ministry of Women and Child
Development (MWCD) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
(MHFW). This plan will be finalised by the end of 2019 by a special task force
jointly constituted by the MWCD, MHFW, and MHRD.

At the current time, Anganwadis are under the purview of the MWCD.
Regardless of which ministry is officially in charge of running the Anganwadis
(which will be decided jointly by the ministries and the joint task force),
the Policy stresses that the responsibility for planning and implementation
of all ECCE curriculum and pedagogy in Anganwadis and all pre-schools
lie with the MHRD - just as health services in ICDS lie with the MHFW.

This transition would greatly help in optimising and smoothly integrating
the delivery of quality early childhood and foundational education by the
MHRD across Anganwadis, pre-schools, and primary schools.

P1.4. Design of learning-friendly environments: Anganwadis, pre-schools, and
primary schools will all have high quality physical infrastructure that is
conducive to learning. A committee of cognitive scientists, early childhood
education experts, artists, and architects will be formed in each State (or
locality) to design spaces, within the funding allocations, that are truly inviting
and inspiring places to spend time and learn.

The physical environments for early childhood education will be welcoming
and stimulating, with accessible infrastructure, drinking water, and toilets;
they will be safe, clean, and brightly lit. Classrooms will allow flexible seating
arrangements; learning materials will be safe, stimulating, developmentally
appropriate, low cost, and preferably created using environmentally-friendly
and locally-sourced materials. While the teacher/educator will be involved
in the selection and development of learning materials, children could also
participate. Some examples of learning materials are picture cards, puzzles,
dominoes, picture story books, blocks, simple musical instruments, number
towers and rods, puppets, materials for arts and crafts, and colouring books.

Posters, graphics, and art containing alphabets, words, numbers, shapes,
colours, etc. will be placed on walls at the eye levels of children for high quality
stimulation and engagement.

P1.5. Professionalisation of high quality educators for early childhood education:
State Governments will prepare cadres of professionally qualified educators
for early childhood education, through stage-specific professional training,
mentoring mechanisms, and career mapping. Necessary facilities will also be
created for the initial professional preparation of these educators and their
Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Current Anganwadi workers and educators handling the pre-school education
component of the ICDS will be given the opportunity to participate in a
6-month special training programme to enable them to carry out effective
early childhood teaching-learning practices.

Access for children aged 3 - 8 years to a
flexible, multifaceted, multilevel, playbased
and activity-based education is of
utmost importance.

P1.6. Instituting an effective and quality regulatory system for ECCE: An effective
quality regulation or accreditation system for ECCE will be instituted as
recommended in the National ECCE Policy (2013). This regulatory system will
cover all pre-school education - private, public, and philanthropic - in order to
ensure compliance with essential quality standards.

P1.7. Generating demand from stakeholders for early childhood education:
In order to generate demand for ECCE, all stakeholders, including policy
makers, parents, teachers, and community members must be well-informed
on how a young child’s needs are so different from what formal education
provides, and why fulfilling these needs is so important for a child’s lifelong
learning and development. Large-scale advocacy through public service
messages and media campaigns, direct communication between pre-primary
education programmes and parents, and wide-scale dissemination of simple
methods and materials to enable parents to actively support their children’s
early learning needs will be prioritised and proactively supported.

The mandate of the NCERT will be
expanded to include the development
of a Curricular and Pedagogical
Framework for Early Childhood

Extension of the RTE Act to include early childhood education: Given
the necessity and importance of developmentally-appropriate learning
during a child’s most critical phase of brain development, the availability
of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education for all 3-6 year olds
will be included as an integral part of the RTE Act (see P8.4.1). Here, by
‘compulsory’, it is meant that it will be obligatory for the public system to
provide appropriate and quality educational infrastructure, facilities, and
educators to all children in the age group 3-6 years, with a special emphasis
on reaching the most socio-economically disadvantaged children through
ECCE services.