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Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is one of the best investments a country can make to promote human resource development, gender equality and social cohesion. This is especially true for a developing country like India, with a large young population. Such an investment also helps in reducing the costs for later remedial programmes.
ECCE focusses on the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. This helps children grow into self-reliant citizens of India. In addition, ECCE is in alignment with the achievement of UNESCO’s Education 2030 Agenda i.e., to ensure that by 2030, all children have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for entry into Grade 1.
In addition, for children from marginalised communities, ECCE plays an important role in compensating the disadvantages caused by their family situation and in combating educational inequalities. Overall, ECCE helps to improve the Human Development Index (HDI) for the states and the country as a whole.
We ran a pilot for 25 Anganwadis in Nashik in the state of Maharashtra for a period of 12 months. These Anganwadis offered children aged 3-6 years a safe, nurturing and stimulating learning environment, equipped with smart digital infrastructure (LED, Minicomputer, CCTV, Internet), scripted curriculum, online academic content and monitoring through school Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. In addition, continuous professional development for teachers, solar-powered inverters to aid content delivery, learning aids, toys and principles of BALA (Building As a Learning Aid) applied to infrastructure created an optimum and stimulating learning environment.
Because of our intervention, a 20% improvement was seen among students on several baseline indicators, including physical and motor development; sensory, perceptual and cognitive development; language, literacy and communication development; and personal, social and emotional development. The model Angawadis, thus enabled in Nashik, helped bring quality ECCE to the disadvantaged section of the society.
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