Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)http://www.create-rpc.
orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected] EDUCATION IN INDIACREATEINDIAPOLICY BRIEF1DECEMBER 2010PRE-PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIAVarious typesof pre primary schools areavailablein Indiaand more children are now attendingpre-school (NIPCCD, 2006) indicating an increase in demand for education at this stage. Thisoverall increase raises questions such as whether this demand has increased everywhere. Are allchildren attending pre-schools ifthey areavailable? W hich types of preschools do childrenbelonging to different socio-economic groups attend? Who are the children totally excluded frompre primary schooling (zone 0 of the CREATE zones of exclusion)? Drawing onquantitative datacollected intheNational Family Health Survey, DISE (District Information System forEducation)andtheSeventh All India Education Survey as well asqualitativedata collected through CREATE’scommunity and school survey (ComSS) in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh conducted in 2008,this policy brief presents an analysis of pre-primary education in India and recommends policies forthe improved provision of equitable and quality pre primary schooling.It has been written byMadhumita Bandyopadhyay and Jagannath BeheraPre-school Education and ExclusionResearch suggests that pre-primary education isvery important for the development of youngchildren before they enter formal school (Kaul,2002). It helps in cognitive development ofchildren at the early grades of primary educationand it has strong bearing on attendance andparticipation of children once they enter primaryschool.
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Pre-primary education is considered to be veryimportant for the child as it is the first steptowards entering the world of knowledge as wellas a healthy and purposeful life. Pre-primaryeducation helps children become moreindependent and confident as well as promotingthe all round development of the children(Ramachandran et al.,2003).Children who have been to pre-primary schoolstend to learn more rapidly through an organisedcurriculum, learning aids and by interacting withother children. The main purpose of pre-primaryeducation is to prepare children physically,emotionally, socially and mentally for formalschooling and to prevent poor performance andearly drop out. It also helps older children,particularly girls, to attend their schools makingthem free from responsibility of sibling care.
Thus it can be said that pre primary education isnecessary for all children of 3-6 years oldirrespective of their socio-economic background(Govinda andBandyopadhyay, 2008).Withincreasing numbers of nuclear families and a lackof family support, preprimaryschool education isgaining importance.Availability ofqualitypre primary education willpromote inclusive education and meaningfulaccess to school education byincreasingenrolment andreducing the vulnerability ofchildren to failure and drop out at later stages ofeducation.PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIAConsortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)http://www.
create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected] Initiatives for Pre-School Education inIndiaProvision of early childhood care and education,especially for the most vulnerable anddisadvantaged children,isone of the sixEducation For All (EFA) goals. Although there isno numerical target for reaching thetargetgroupwithin a fixed time-frame, governments have beenurged to expand access, improve quality andensure equity in Early Childhood Care andEducation(ECCE)services.
Like elsewhere, the importance of pre-primaryschooling has long been recognised byeducational policy and programmes in India and ithas also been a constitutional commitment as apartof the directive principle of the constitution.The National policy on Education 1986 (GOI,1986) and its Plan of Action, (GoI, 1992) haveplacedimmense importance on pre-schooleducation. However, it has not been consideredafundamental right,nor itis being fully managed bytheeducational departments atnationalor statelevel although it is partially supported by theongoing flagship educational programme SarvaSiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which includes a majorcomponent ofECCE.Whilethe Ministry of Human ResourceDevelopment in India is responsible forelementary education, the Ministry of Women andChild Development deals with pre-primaryeducation.The Government of India launched the IntegratedChild Development Services (ICDS) schemein1975. The Department of Women and ChildDevelopment has been implementing the schemewhich seeks to provide health care facilities,supplementary nutritional support and to improvechildren’s communication and cognitive skills as apreparation for entry into primary school. Initiallythe programme started as a project in somestates but presently it covers many rural and tribalareas along with some urban pockets targetingmainly underprivileged children.
The SSAenvisages providing preschool education inconvergence withtheICDS programme.Present Status of Pre Primary EducationIn India, preschool education is provided byprivate schools andgovernmentICDS(Anganwadi)centres. In addition, there are someECCE centres running under SSA and somepreschoolsareattached togovernment as well asprivate schools.According to the estimate given by the SeventhAll India Education Survey (NCERT, 2005), thereare 493,700 pre-primary institutions in India, outof which 456,994 are in rural areas. Theseschoolsserve26.453 million children of which12.
829 million are girls according to DISE (DistrictInformation System for Education) data (2007-08). The percentage of enrolment inprimaryschools with pre-primary facilitiesis low.It was10%in 2007-08 compared to 7.7% in 2004-05.
The highest percentage of pre-primary enrolmentin primary schools isin Madhya Pradesh (19.6%)and the lowest of5.0%in Bihar(Mehta, 2010).The third round (2005-06) of National FamilyHealth Survey data (IIPS, 2007) shows thataround 56%of childrenin pre schoolare enrolledinAnganwadis(ICDS Centres) for early childhoodcare and education. Among them only 31%ofchildren are attending the centres regularly.
Alarge variation is also found in access to earlychildhood care and educationacross the states.Access to Pre Primary Education inMadhyaPradesh and ChhattisgarhComSSdata collected by CREATE from onedistrict (Rajnandgaon) in Chhattisgarh and twodistricts (Rewa and Dindori) in Madhya Pradeshsuggests that enrolment rates inpre-primaryschool vary considerably across the three clustersand between social groups.Around70%of childrenareenrolled invarioustypes ofpreprimaryeducation in these threeclusters (comprising 36 villages). The highestenrolment has been recorded in Rajnandgaondistrict (89%) followed by Dindori (81%) andRewa (35%).Although the majority ofthesechildren are attendingAnganwadi(ICDS centres),a considerable proportion of children are alsoattending privateschools. A higher proportionattends private pre primary educationin Rewacompared to Rajnandgaon.
Intheabsence ofprivate schools,almost all the children inthetribaldominated villages in Dindori are enrolled inAnganwadi.Figure 1 shows that a highproportion of childrenbelonging to scheduled tribes(ST)areenrolled inpre-primary education followed by other backwardclasses (OBC), scheduled caste(SC)andchildrenfrom other social groups.PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIAConsortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)http://www.
create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]:Percentage of children enrolled inpre-primary education bysocial groupSource: Household Data, 2008The quality of pre-primary education for the tribalchildren in tribal area is poor due to lack ofqualified teachers and supervisory staff (NIPCCD,1992). Availability of free food in theAnganwadicentres may be thecauseofhigh enrolment inpoortribal areas.
At the time ofthefield visit, we found that lessthan half of the children amongthetotal enrolledare attending pre-primary education.Amongchildren belonging to scheduled tribes whoattendpre-primary school approximately 95% of childrengo toAnganwadicentres, whereas 45%ofchildren belonging toothercastesgo toAnganwadis(Figure2). The children fromothercastesaccount forthehighest proportionofthechildren whoattendprivate pre-primary educationasthese are the children whose parents canafford to pay for such school.Figure-2: Children in different social groupsindifferent pre primary schoolsSource: Household Data, 2008One study (NCERT, 2006) shows that boys’enrolment is higher than girls’ enrolment in pre-primary schools.
Our field survey data shows thatin pre-primary education boys’enrolmentinAnganwadisis slightly less than girls.But inprivate pre-primary schools the boys’ enrolment ismuch higher as compared to girls.Childrenwhose fathers are employed in theservice sector account for the highest proportionin total enrolment in pre-school educationfollowed by children whose father are employedas a labourer or engaged in farming. From thedata it isclearthat most of the children belongingto tribalgroupsare enrolled inAnganwadis(ICDScentres).
Although most of the childrenareenrolledonlyasmall proportion attendpre-primary educationregularly. These children are mostly from poorerhouseholds who cannot afford private pre-primaryschooleven though it is available locallyandalsobecause oftheavailability of free food in thesecentres.Policy RecommendationsFrom the above discussion it is clear that there isa considerable variation in access to pre-primaryeducation among children between 3 to 6 yearsold with diverse socio-economic backgrounds.Children belonging to marginalised groups insociety, particularly girls, depend on public pre-primary schools, whereas those belonging tohigher socio-economic groups are more likely toattending private schools.Since education ofchildrenbetween 3-6 years oldis notafundamental right, it is notlegally mandated.Because of this preschool education is sufferingfrom inadequate coverage and poor qualitybenefitingvery few children.
However, it is an important constitutionalcommitment as itispart of the Directive Principleandis also one of the EFA goals. It also asmentioned earlier has a significant positive effecton sustained meaningful access to education,soit shouldbe given immediate attention in view ofits important role in children’s lives.?The quality of teaching inpublic pre primaryAnganwadicentres is unsatisfactory due toalackof trained teachers.The government needs toinvest in animprovement of quality of services inAnganwadicentres including pre-schooleducation, which will improve the learningachievement of children at pre-primary stage.PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIAConsortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)http://www.create-rpc.
orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]?Provision of equitable accesstoall eligiblechildren in the countryrequiresexpandingthecoverage of the ICDS programme by openingmore pre-school centres or attaching suchprovision to existing government primary schools.Many states have already started these initiativesbut the situation is far from satisfactory.?To ensure the quality of preschool education itis important to provide well qualified and trainedteachersfor pre primary schools.
?More focus is needed for quality pre-primaryeducation for disadvantaged groups living in poorand remote areas. The pre-primary educationcomponentof the ICDS programme althoughevident on paper is often non-existent in reality.?Facilities are important and must besafe,healthy and suitable environments for youngchildren.?Free food distributed in pre primary schoolsplays an important role in attracting the poorestsections of society to attend regularly andaverting nutritional problems. These schemesshould be maintained and expanded.?The play materialsin mostof theAWCsvisitedarelocked up in cupboards.
This seems be aresult of a fairly common belief that expensiveand attractive things are too precious to behandled by children and need to be brought outfor display only during inspections. The same isthe case with library books in schools.Materials inpre primary schools should be made available tochildren to use, regularly inspected, updated andreplaced.?Different government departments need toimplement pre-school education in a coordinatedmanner avoiding duplication and overlapping ofinterventions.?The monitoring and evaluation ofexistingprogrammes such as ICDS and ECCE is anotherimportant issue that needs to be carried out morefrequently to supplement the inputs into theseprogrammes. This also plays a crucial role forbetter planning and policy implementation toensure wide coverage of quality pre-primaryeducation in the future.
References?GoI Government of India (1986) NationalPolicy on Education1986. New Delhi: Ministry ofHuman Resource Development.?GoI. (1992)National Policy on Education1986: Programme of Action 1992, New Delhi:Ministry of Human Resource Development.?Govinda, R and Madhumita Bandyopadhyay(2008)Access to Elementary Education in India:Country Analytical Review.New Delhi/Brighton:NUEPA and University of Sussex.?IIPS International Institute for PopulationScience and Macro International (2007)NationalFamily Health Survey (NFHS-3), 2005-06.
Mumbai: International Institute for PopulationSciences.?Kaul, Venita (2002) Early Childhood Care andEducation.In: R Govinda (ed.) (2002)IndiaEducation Report. New Delhi: Oxford UniversityPress.?Mehta, A.C. (2010) Analytical Report 2007-08,Elementary Education in India: Progress towardsUEE, New Delhi: NUEPA.
?NCERT National Council of EducationalResearch and Training. (2005)Seventh All IndiaEducational Survey, Provisional Statistics as onSeptember 30, 2002.New Delhi: NCERT.?NCERT. (2006)National Focus Group onEarly Childhood Education.
Position paper. NewDelhi: NCERT.?NIPCCD National Institute of PublicCooperation and Child Development. (1992)National Review of ICDS.New Delhi: NIPCCD.?NIPCCD.
(2006)Three decades of ICDS-AnAppraisal. New Delhi: NIPCCD.?Ramchandran, V., Jandhyala, K. and Saihjee,A. (2003) Through the Life Cycle of Children:Factors that Facilitate/Impede SuccessfulPrimary School Completion.Economic andPolitical Weekly, 22-28 November, 38(47) pp.4994-5002.This Policy Brief has been written byMadhumitaBandyopadhyay and Jagannath Beherabased ondata from CREATE’s research in MadhyaPradesh and Chhattisgarhas well assecondarysources.CREATEis a DFID-funded researchprogramme consortia exploring issues ofeducational access, transitions and equity inSouth Africa, India, Bangladesh and Ghana.For more information go to:www.create-rpc.orgPRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIAConsortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]