Improving early childhood care & education: What experts said on Centre’s move - Hindustan Times
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Centre set to launch National Curriculum, Framework for early childhood care & education, here's what experts think

ByGaurav Sarma, New Delhi
Mar 12, 2024 07:02 PM IST

The Government of India is launching a National Curriculum for ECCE and a National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation. Check what experts think.

In a significant move to promote early childhood education and care, the Centre is all set to launch the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for children from three to six years old as well as a National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation for children from birth to three years.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development said it is launching the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation with an objective to strengthen India's Early Childhood Care and Education landscape. (HT ARCHIVE)
The Ministry of Women and Child Development said it is launching the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation with an objective to strengthen India's Early Childhood Care and Education landscape. (HT ARCHIVE)

The Ministry of Women and Child Development notified on Monday that it is launching a National Curriculum for ECCE and a National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation recognizing the pivotal role of early years in development and thereby seeking to strengthen India's Early Childhood Care and Education landscape.

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The Ministry states that a good learning programme during the early childhood stages ensures appropriate opportunities for holistic learning and development. It highlights, “Early intervention is of particular significance for children with developmental delays, infants with disabilities and children growing up in impoverished environments, by counteracting biological and environmental disadvantage, since plasticity in the brain allows circuits in the brain to organize and reorganize, in response to early stimulation.”

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As the Ministry gears up to launch the National Curriculum as well as the Framework, team Hindustan Times spoke to some of the academicians as well as medical practitioners to understand how the Ministry’s latest move will benefit the children.

Prof Gayatree Goswami, former Head of the Department of Education, at Gauhati University, welcomed the Centre’s decision to launch the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education. She said, “It is of utmost importance that children are given the right lessons and guidance by their guardians and caregivers right from the early stages as it would help them grasp the basics of learning through a guided curricular approach.

“This is in fact, a very significant on the part of the Government of India with far-reaching consequences insofar as the future of the country is concerned, the children being the representatives of the future,” Prof Goswami added.

Likewise, Dr Sangeeta Goswami, a former research scholar of Gauhati University and a retired teacher of eminence, spoke to Hindustan Times and said, “The significance of both the National Curriculum for ECCE and National Framework for Early Childhood Stimulation lies in the fact that they underline an area of crucial import concerning child development and care, and unfolds the underlying meaning and purpose of the adage, ‘Charity begins at home’. I am sure that such an initiative would go a long way in securing a futuristic edge for the children of the nation over their counterparts in countries elsewhere.”

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The medical significance of early childhood care

Medical practitioners also spoke on the importance of early childhood care.

Dr Kasturi Sharma, a physician from the SUM Hospital in Odisha, said, “The importance of early childhood care in terms of health and education can hardly be over-emphasized. It is, in fact, one of the core areas of concern about child health and growth.”

According to Dr Sharma, the initiative by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which is yet to be implemented is a remarkable step towards nation-building as the future of the country is directly proportionate to the quality of care and treatment meted out to the present-day children.”

The National Curriculum and Framework explained:

Now, one must wonder what the genesis behind the National Curriculum for ECCE and the National Framework for Early Childhood is.

The Ministry informed that the Curriculum as well as the Framework have been prepared by the National Institute for Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), with the support of an Internal Committee and development partners, and feedback incorporated from Anganwadi workers.

It further stated that the NIPCCD will lead the training of Anganwadi functionaries on the new Curriculum and Framework, the provisions of which (weekly activity schedules, home visit guidance, assessment tools for tracking child development, etc.) will be included in the Poshan Tracker mobile application.

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Key highlights of Curriculum and Framework:

  • The Ministry in its release said that the National Curriculum for ECCE covers all domains of the National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage, developed in line with the NEP 2020. It deals with children between the ages of 3 and 8 and focuses on “playful joy-based learning”.
  • According to the Ministry, the Curriculum is “structured to provide a weekly calendar comprising 36 weeks of active learning, 8 weeks of reinforcement and 4 weeks of initiation, together with 5+1 days of play-based learning in one week, and three blocks of activities in one day.”
  • It has been designed to improve the quality of ECCE in Anganwadi centres by prioritizing competency-based lesson plans and activities, presented in a simple and user-friendly manner.
  • The Framework, on the other hand, provides a combination of activities, including in-centre and at-home, indoor and outdoor, child-led and educator-led, and robust assessment tools.
  • Special attention has been given to the screening and inclusion of Divyang (specially abled) children.
  • The Ministry states that the Framework seeks to empower caregivers and Anganwadi workers through ‘responsive caregiving’ and ‘providing opportunities’ for early learning for children from birth up to the age of three.
  • The objective is to give the workers a basic understanding of how children grow and develop, the importance of brain development, and the need for nurturing care.
  • The Framework also provides 36 month-wise age-based activities that can be conducted both within the home and at Anganwadi centres or creches, while maintaining the National Curriculum for ECCE’s focus on Divyang children.

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