NEW DELHI: One of the most striking features of the new education policy approved by the Union Cabinet is making ‘early childhood care and education’ (ECCE) for kids aged 3-6 part of the school education for the first time.
The NEP has paved the way for restructuring of the 10+2 structure in school education to a new pedagogical and curricular restructuring of 5+3+3+4 covering ages 3-18. Currently, children in the age group of 3-6 are not covered in the 10+2 structure as Class 1 begins at age 6.
The government plans to formalise ECCE in a phase-wise manner and complete the process by 2030. It said ECCE shall be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of early- childhood education institutions consisting of stand-alone anganwadis, aganwadis co-located with primary schools; pre-primary schools or sections covering at least age 5 to 6 years co-located with existing primary schools and stand-alone pre-schools.
For this, there will be teachers and workers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE. As per the plan, prior to the age of 5, every child will move to a ‘preparatory class’ or ‘balavatika’. The teachers with 10+2 level education will be given a 6-month certificate programme in ECCE and those with lower educational qualifications shall be given a one-year diploma programme.
The planning and implementation of ECCE curriculum will be carried out jointly by the ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare and Tribal Affairs. Additionally, recognizing foundational literacy and numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP also calls for the setting up of a National Mission by the Centre.
For this, states will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by Grade 3 by 2025. The NEP says Sanskrit will be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students. Other classical languages of India will also be available as options.