WCD Minister Calls for Childhood Policy that Promotes All-Round Development of Children National Consultation on ‘Early Childhood Care And Education Policy‘ comes out with Recommendations on Quality, Curriculum, Private-Sector Participation

Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt Krishna Tirath, has called for evolving an Early Childhood Care and Education Policy that promotes optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age.

She was addressing a gathering of eminent child experts, policy makers, senior government officials from child development and education departments and representatives from non-government sector who discussed the draft national policy (called ECCE Policy) over a full day and came out with a number of recommendations last evening.

The major planks of the draft national policy, as the Minister outlined, are universal access, equity and quality and strengthening capacity building.

The minister emphasised that ECCE provisions will be governed by a strong quality framework. The policy seeks to universalize the provisions of ECCE for all children mainly through ICDS, which has a network in all nooks and corners of the country. Special plans will be developed for the most marginalised and vulnerable groups besides repositioning of anganwadi centre (AWC) as a vibrant child-friendly ECD centre with adequate infrastructure, financial and human resources for ensuring a continuum of ECCE in a life cycle approach and child-related outcomes. AWC cum crèches with provision of full range of services, including care, planned early stimulation; health, nutrition and interactive environment for children below 3 years will be developed, piloted and scaled up in response to the community needs. The minister added that the national ECCE policy will be the guiding light for ICDS and ECCE provisions across the country.

The ECCE proposes early stimulation for under 3’s largely through parental involvement and a joyful learning programme for 3-6 years old children. She added that context-specific curricula may be developed within these broad parameters.

The recommendations of the day-long National Consultation included creation of an enabling environment for private sector involvement to achieve Access, Quality and Equity, espousing an approach of convergence between policy, curriculum, training and other relevant standards, strengthening of institutional capacity building, rationalising child trainer ratio and distance from centre, fine-tuning the assessment & accreditation and grievance redressal mechanism, and time line for each activity of the programme. It also called for closely working with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to address the specific problems of the disabled and linking of early childhood education with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Mr Prem Narain, Secretary, Minstry of WCD said that the Ministry proposes to strike a balance between centralised and decentralised governance for running of ECCE programme and also constitute a national body to oversee the policy framework for consistent and effective implementation of the policy framework. Regulatory authorities in the respective States shall ensure effective administration of the policy framework.