Specialised Training Required for Implementing ECCE: Dr Venita Kaul
Teachers specialised in early learning pedagogy are required for Early Child Care and Education (ECCE) to become impactful in the country, according to Dr Venita Kaul, former professor of NCERT, Senior Education Specialist at World Bank and an acclaimed expert in early learning. She was speaking at the 88th Rajagiri Round Table Conference on Zoom titled, National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2022: Laying a Solid Foundation for the Future. "Most of the pre-primary classes have been started in states without trained teachers. We cannot have BEds and MEds to teach pre-primary school children as the early learning pedagogy is qualitatively different."
She pointed out that the NCF document is most relevant in Indian context and based on studies done in India. A longitudinal study of 14,000 children in the age group of 4 to 8 year olds in three states in the country done from 2011 to 2017 by ASER Centre and Ambedkar University had shown that seven out of ten children had gone to play school but most of them had low school readiness and low cognitive levels. Yet, those who attend a private, government pre-primary school or anganvadis were better off than those who didn't. Hence, emphasis should be on the quality of pre-primary programme offered. She said that play way methods were best suited for early learning and this will lead to improved school readiness as they enter Grade I and II.
Teachers should not use chalk and talk method but interact with children as facilitator. Ulitmately, there is only one useful yardstick to measure the effectiveness of pre-primary learning. "If you as a stranger go into a classroom when a class is in progress, and no child looks up, that is the best indicator. Each child needs to be absorbed in what they are doing," Dr Venita Kaul said.
Suresh Kumar, former IAS officer and Executive Director of Ananthamurthy International School in Thiruvananthapuram said that effective Early Child Care and Education (ECCE) can become possible only through continuous training and monitoring of teachers. The early learning pedagogy currently used in most schools are unscientific, provide stress and painful experiences for children. The Cambridge Assessment system provides for counting numbers from 0 to 20 with arithmetic operations at UKG stage while most parents expect their children to count up to 20,000. Teachers from various kindergartens using Montessori, Waldorf and other early learning methodologies presented innovative teaching practices that could be integrated into NCF 2022. The event was moderated by Sreekumar Raghavan, Editor of Pallikkutam.