CECED initiated this series with support of CARE, India, primarily to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice and facilitate more evidence based and informed advocacy for ECCE for children from birth to eight years. The Policy Briefs are prepared on the basis of secondary research and literature review on specific themes that have significance for ECCE and early learning. The policy briefs address policy makers, practitioners, professionals and parents. With this in view, the attempt is to bring research based knowledge from global sources to the readers in more readable and non-technical form and identify implications for action in the Indian context. The objective is also to generate more informed debates and discussions in the area at national and sub-national levels, leading to more effective plans and programmes. The summaries of the 5 published policy briefs are given below:
Published Policy Briefs:
1. Unpacking care: Protecting Early childhood
This policy brief focuses on empirical and theoretical understanding of children’s continuous need for care especially during childhood, particularly, for children below three years of age. It emphasizes the critical importance of protective, consistent and responsive care, and discusses strategies to enhance care and promote early learning opportunities for children in India by synthesizing learning from existing empirical evidence in this area.
2. Early Childhood Education in India: A Snapshot
This secondary research was an attempt to collate data from available sources on Early Childhood Education (ECE) on three to six year old children’s enrolment and participation status and trends. This policy brief significantly highlights the fragmented state of the data available on ECE in the country. The document addresses key questions pertaining to ECE in the context of the importance of ECE, related policies and programmes, inequitable distribution of teacher education institutions in the country, and state wise differences in the status of enrolment of three-six years old in ECE, as against the current child population. It also highlights the current gaps in the data in this field and indicates an urgent need for a comprehensive and updated data management system for ECE.
3. Brain development in Early Childhood: The Critical Years
Interest in the developing brain and its plasticity has grown rapidly in the past couple of decades and seems to be widespread across several disciplines. In particular, considerable emphasis is being laid on the first three years of life that are considered most vulnerable to adverse influences and at the same time most amenable to preventive interventions referred to as the ‘window of opportunity’ for children’s foundation for life. The recent upsurge in early intervention programs targeted at the first thousand days of life is based on the belief that deprivation during this period is likely to have lifelong adverse consequences and that preventive/corrective action taken during this period is essential to prevent such negative outcomes. Any deficits at this stage can adversely affect development. How reversible are the deficits at this stage? This policy brief prepared for CECED by a leading neuro-pediatrician Prof. Pratibha Singhi, tries to capture the debate and draw out implications for Indian children.
4. Right to Early Childhood Development: A Comprehensive Framework
This policy brief unpacks the concept of right to ECD in terms of potential entitlements for children below 6 years and the current status of rights was based on a desk review of secondary sources of data and consultation with experts. The analysis showed there is a need for change in the policy paradigm for the child. Broadly, this thematic paper highlights many crucial issues which have larger policy implications. The findings of the work were shared in Right to Education (RTE) forum and are now being used as a basic reference document by a large national alliance of NGOs for its advocacy at the policy level of provisions for children. The development of the framework for making Early Childhood Development a right of every child.
5. Multilingualism in Early Childhood Education Classrooms: Rationale, Challenges and Possibilities
This Multilingualism functions within the principle of social justice and social practice. Research states that children who speak more than one language have more metalinguistic awareness; they are better at problem solving; demonstrate greater creativity; perform better in school overall and express more tolerant attitudes towards others as compared to monolingual children. This policy brief elucidates how children acquire language and different pathways to acquire different languages; gives reasons to promote multilingualism especially in heterogeneous country like India. It also busts some myths with evidence from research and draws out recommendations to promote multilingualism.
Policy Briefs under Publication:
1. Investing in Early Childhood and Rate of Returns: Global Scenario
It is a well proven fact that the first few years of life provide a strong foundation for life-long development. Studies on the economic returns of investment indicate higher returns to society when the education investment is incurred in early childhood as compared to later childhood or adulthood. The document reviews the research in this area and discusses the global scenario of investment in ECCE in this context and makes related recommendations.
2. Children with Disabilities in India
This policy brief on children with disabilities provides an overview of diverse perspectives and societal implications of disability in India, discusses the significance of screening and identification of children with disabilities and examines the policies and provisions for children with disabilities. Identification of disability during the early childhood years is critical for the child’s growth, because experiences during these years have a lifelong impact on cognitive, health and social outcomes (United Nations, 2010). Positive experiences during the early years increase the realm of possibilities for children who have, or are at the risk of having developmental delays or a disability. This is also a critical time for children with disability to have access to interventions that can provide them with an opportunity to develop to their full potential (UNICEF, 2009; UNESCO, 2012).
3. Family and Community Participation in Early Childhood Education
This Policy Brief aims to provide an overview of the significance of families in early childhood education within the socio-cultural contexts of India. Children begin learning in the milieu of their families and families are the primary sources of children’s learning and development. Family is the microsystem within which the child grows, learns to build relationships and gradually develops into an independent and socially valuable individual. The family in India is undergoing phenomenal transformation in structure and this has resulted in a need for quality early childhood centres as children transition from the comfort of home to an unfamiliar space of early childhood centres. The research emphasises how practices that are family centred support learning and school readiness skills of children, how culturally appropriate programs are critical for the family involvement in ECE programmes, how to use a strength based perspective rather than a deficit perspective to address needs of families who have children with disabilities, how to engage early childhood educators to form a reciprocal relationship with families and how the curriculum should be culturally appropriate for building a conducive family-centered practice. This policy brief showcases some good practices from Indian sub-continent context with a focus on family engagement. It also examines the current provisions and policies in the national and international context that support FCP and provides some recommendations for policy makers and practitioners.