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Why is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Highlighted in New Education Policy 2022 So Crucial?

Why is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Highlighted in New Education Policy 2022 So Crucial?

17/10/2022

Nitin Virmani

School Owner

The New Education Policy 2022 identifies that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs in the first six years and emphasises giving utmost importance to appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in the early years to ensure a child’s holistic development.

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. — Haim Ginott, a noted child psychologist

According to the revised policy, there is a dire need to give all young children universal access to high-quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) across the country, with a special focus on children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In this article

Importance of ECCE

How NEP reinvigorates ECCE

Areas of focus for NEP

Purpose of ECCE

Challenges and way forward

The Problem - Why is Early Childhood Care and Education Important?

We all know that the first five years of life are critical to a child’s learning and development. This is because a child’s brain remains the most sensitive and more receptive to learning from age 3 to 5. Even many psychologists and physiologists suggest that the more the brain is exercised in the early years, the more lasting impact it has on our learning abilities. Thus, the first few years of life form the central building blocks for a child’s holistic growth and development.

Unfortunately, quality Early Childhood Care and Education are still not accessible to crores of young children in India. The current condition of education for children aged three to six years lies at two extremes. Pre-schools located in urban areas cover certain topics such as numbers up to 100 and letters from the alphabet from the curricula of Grades 1 and 2. On the other hand, Anganwadis in rural areas don’t go beyond storytelling and teaching some specific alphabets or rhymes to little learners. In fact, we, as a society, have no idea about what we should teach this age group and how it should be taught. The negligence of Early Childhood Care and Education is clearly visible in our pre-schools.

Keeping all these vital things in view, the New Education Policy 2022 brings a strong focus on ECCE and includes it in the new 5+3+3+4 pedagogical structure in the form of the Foundational Stage. The current 10+2 structure does not cover children ages 3 to 6, as Class 1 begins at age 6. The new 5+3+3+4 structure, on the other hand, includes a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from the age of 3 to promote better overall learning, development, and well-being of children.

However, the intent and purpose of the New Education Policy 2022 toward ECCE are long overdue, as the earlier policies and commissions have also envisaged its importance. For instance, the concept of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) was first introduced in the National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986. But, with the fast-paced growth of technology, culture, communication, and rising interest in education, NPE 1986 failed to implement ECCE.

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New Education Policy 2022 - Reinvigorating ECCE

Later, in 2013, the Indian Government released the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy to provide integrated services for the continuous holistic development of children up to age 6. However, government Anganwadi centres, pre-primary schools, and private nurseries failed to implement it in full force and effect. The New Education Policy 2022 is the first policy that compels schools to embrace ECCE no later than 2030 to ensure that every child entering Grade 1 is school-ready.

Early Childhood Care and Education – A Strong Foundation for Lifelong Learning

According to UNICEF, early childhood is defined as the period that spans from conception up to eight years of age. It is the most critical time for a child’s holistic social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development that lays a solid foundation for lifelong learning and well-being.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is more than preparing children for primary school. While the term ECCE traditionally refers to the education of children from age 3-6, it is ideally a comprehensive approach to programs and policies for children up to six years of age, their teachers, and parents. ECCE, mentioned in the New Education Policy 2022, consists of the following types of learning:

  • Flexible
  • Multi-level
  • Multi-faceted
  • Play-based
  • Inquiry-based
  • Activity-based

These learning methods comprise:

  • Alphabets, numbers, and counting
  • Colours and shapes
  • Languages
  • Indoor and outdoor play
  • Problem-solving
  • Puzzles and logical thinking
  • Craft, drama and puppetry 
  • Drawing, painting and other visual art
  • Music and movement

Moreover, it also focuses on developing:

  • Good behaviour
  • Social capacities
  • Ethics
  • Sensitivity
  • Courtesy
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Personal and public cleanliness

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National Education Policy NEP 2020 Explained

Building a confident Bharat

The Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) described in the New Education Policy 2022 focuses on four key areas:

  • Universal Access: Access to free, safe, and high-quality ECCE at Pre-schools/Anganwadis/Balvatikas for all children from 3 to 6 years.


  • Foundational Learning Curriculum: For ages 3-8, the curriculum is divided into two parts: Foundation learning curriculum from ages 3-6 in ECCE and 6-8 in classes I and II in primary school.


  • Multi-faceted Learning: A strong focus on play, activity, and inquiry-based learning through a flexible learning system to develop Foundational Literacy & Numeracy (FLN).

 

  • Preparatory Class: Before the age of 5, every child will be moved to ‘Preparatory Class’ or ‘Balvatika’ (that is, before Class 1), which has ECCE-qualified teachers imparting play-based learning.

Thus, ECCE gives all young children universal access to quality early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education, enabling them to flourish throughout their lives.

The Purpose of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

The overall aim of ECCE is to attain optimal outcomes in different domains like:

  • Cognitive development
  • Physical and motor development
  • Socio-emotional-ethical development
  • Communication skills development
  • Cultural/artistic development
  • The development of early language, literacy, and numeracy.

In the context of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the New Education Policy 2022 tries to focus on two essential components:

However, after analysing and reviewing the New Education Policy 2022, some challenges are quite visible to be faced by school owners while implementing the ECCE guidelines mentioned in the revised policy. Let’s have a look at them.

Challenges for Early Childhood Care and Education

The challenges and hurdles school owners may face in implementing ECCE include:

  • Unavailability of well-trained teachers in Anganwadis, private nurseries, and pre-primary schools;
  • Deficiency in supplies and poor infrastructure in Anganwadis for education;
  • Anganwadis tend to contain more children from the age group 2-4 and fewer in the educationally critical age range of 4-6-year;
  • They also have few teachers specially trained and dedicated to early childhood education;
  • Most private pre-schools are based on rote memorisation and lack play-based learning.

With these gaps and challenges identified, there are also opportunities to respond effectively. Now, let’s see how ECCE will be implemented.

Way Forward for Early Childhood Care and Education

The New Education Policy 2022 states that the planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs in a phased manner. ECCE will be delivered through a highly robust and significantly expanded system of institutions consisting of:

  • Standalone Pre-schools and Anganwadis equipped with high-quality infrastructure, play equipment, and an enriched learning environment;
  • Anganwadis co-located with primary schools;
  • Pre-primary schools/sections having children aged at least 5-6 years co-located with existing primary schools.

All of these early-childhood educational institutions will recruit teachers/workers well trained in a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) developed by NCERT for children up to the age of 8. The framework, which is perfectly aligned with New Education Policy 2022 guidelines, the latest research on ECCE, and national and international best practices, is divided into two parts, namely:

  • A sub-framework for 0 to 3-year-olds
  • A sub-framework for 3 to 8-year-olds

The framework will serve as a guide both for early-childhood educational institutions and parents. Moreover, to prepare an initial cadre of professionally qualified teachers for ECCE, current Anganwadi teachers/workers will be trained systematically according to the NCPFECCE framework developed by NCERT.

Anganwadi workers/teachers who are 12th pass out or have higher educational qualifications will be given a 6-month certificate programme in Early Childhood Care and Education. On the other hand, those with lower qualifications will be given a one-year diploma programme covering Foundational Literacy and Numeracy and other relevant aspects of ECCE. Anganwadi workers and teachers may take these programmes through digital/distance modes using smartphones and DTH without any major disruption to their current work.

Lastly, the New Education Policy 2022 emphasises special attention and priority must be given to socio-economically disadvantaged districts and locations. Also, it highly recommends introducing ECCE in Ashramshalas in tribal-dominated areas in a phased manner.

All these ECCE directives mentioned in the New Education Policy 2022 pave the way for transformational reforms both in pre-primary and primary education, but the key here is better implementation and execution.

Conclusion

LEAD, India’s largest School EdTech company, enables Indian schools to deliver high-quality teaching and learning experiences that align with the New Education Policy 2022. At LEAD, we impart Early Childhood Care and Education from early pre-primary years with:

Call us at +91 86828 33333 or email us at [email protected] to get a FREE Consultation on making your school compliant with the New Education Policy 2022. Click here to learn more about the revised policy and how LEAD is helping schools implement it.

Article Summary

  • Quality Early Childhood Care and Education is still not accessible to crores of young children in India
  • NEP 2020 brings a strong focus on ECCE and includes it in the new 5+3+3+4 pedagogical structure
  • ECCE is a comprehensive approach to programs and policies for children up to six years of age, their teachers, and parents
  • ECCE focuses on four key areas: Universal Access, Foundational Learning, Multi-faceted Learning, Preparatory Classes
  • Development of National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education
  • NEP emphasises special attention and priority must be given to socio-economically disadvantaged districts and locations
LEAD Teacher

Nitin Virmani

Nitin Virmani is a Senior Manager of Growth Marketing at LEAD. As a mass communication graduate and IIM-R alumnus, he is a seasoned Digital Marketer. He has worked in EdTech, media & entertainment, automotive & hospitality industry. With his skillset in strategy and digital media planning, he is passionate about bringing scalable innovative solutions directly to customers.

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17/10/2022

Nitin Virmani

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