INTRODUCTION

The focus of Pratham’s Early Childhood Education program is holistic development of children and their readiness for school in the age group of 3-8 years.  This is done with the support of  mothers, school teachers and volunteers in the community. 

Holistic development and school readiness include four large developmental domains:

Physical Development

Develop fine and gross motor skills, along with pre-writing abilities and ensure appropriate growth and health

Socio-Emotional Development

Learn to adapt to new settings & people, work in groups, individual, interaction & interpersonal skills

Cognitive Development

Develop basic problem-solving abilities, along with knowledge of colours, shape, symbols etc that are essential for pre-math

Language Development

Develop basic vocabulary and improve the ability to express ideas confidently, both individually and in groups

 

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Context

Early Childhood is a period where brain development is at its peak. Fostering appropriate developmental abilities of children at this crucial stage has been closely associated with improved outcomes, such as better preparedness for school, enhanced retention and all round development of the child.

There is clearly a need to look at the 3 to 8 year old age group in India very closely.The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2018) on ‘Young Children’ shows that across India, 28.8% of children at age 3 do not attend any government or private preschool. This report also shows a wide variation in enrollment patterns across states. While the National Education Policy 2020 has laid out that the appropriate age for a child to enter grade 1 is 6 years of age, a significant number of children in government schools are age 5 or below. The data also indicated that children who enter school before the appropriate age of 6 do comparatively worse than their older counterparts in the same grade. 

 

Key Elements

Some distinguishing elements of Pratham’s approach towards Early Childhood Education are:

Local Resources Contextual content & low-cost material Regular Assessment Mother Engagement

This instructor or teacher is a local community member, who has a strong understanding of the local context, which helps her effectively interact with children and engage with parents.

The content is based on the child’s immediate surroundings. Activities are conducted with children in varying setups – big groups, small groups and individually – and are supported with contextualized print and play material such as flash cards, story books, story cards, picture cards, beads, clay and locally available objects of daily use.

Children are regularly assessed by instructors through simple activities and observations. Indicators for assessment are such that they are easy to observe, measure and communicate. The findings of these periodic assessments help instructors track children’s progress and are regularly communicated to parents as an engagement tool.

Mothers are also engaged through periodic meetings, creation of mothers’ groups in the community and individual home visits. Mother engagement includes discussions, games and material creation and distribution.

Delivery Models

Pratham’s work in Early Childhood Education began over 25 years ago with community-based preschool centres in Mumbai, which were run by local young women. Over the years, the program has evolved to include multiple delivery models to suit the dynamic contexts and needs of different geographies across India. Today, Pratham’s ECE program is implemented in the following ways:

DIRECT APPROACH: 

Anganwadi Support: This involves mobilization of community volunteers to provide daily instructional activities to children in anganwadis, form and work with mothers’ groups and conduct community events. Pratham provides training and on-site monitoring support to volunteers. Pratham’s anganwadi support model follows a ‘teaching in, reaching out’ approach where efforts are made to engage children both within the institution (i.e. anganwadis) as well as outside it – at home and in the community. 

Pratham partners with ICDS and provides support to anganwadi workers across the block. Pratham provides content, material, and demonstrates appropriate teaching practices and supports anganwadi workers in carrying out learning activities with children. 

Outside the anganwadi, Pratham engages mothers in the community and encourages them to participate in their child’s learning process. This is done by forming mothers’ groups in every community and facilitating regular meetings where Pratham staff and community volunteers demonstrate learning activities for them to conduct with their children at home and discuss any issues related to their children’s education. 

Pratham also conducts school readiness melas in every community before the start of each school year for children about to enter grade 1. This mela encourages a mother and child to come together to participate in the learning focused activities. 

See school readiness melas in action in Rajasthan and Assam.

GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP APPROACH: 

In formal government partnerships, Pratham partners with the state/district-level government to strengthen existing government infrastructure and resources for the quality provision of Early Childhood Education, either in Anganwadi centres or in pre-primary classes and early grades within government schools. Pratham and the government jointly work towards the development of the program, including designing curriculum and material, training government personnel and supporting other key elements such as on-site monitoring and mentoring, measurement and assessment and periodic reviews. Pratham views these government partnerships as a key pathway to achieving systemic change. 

Measurement

Pratham has an observation- and activity-based approach to measuring children’s progress under the Early Childhood Education program. Assessment under the program is done in two ways:

Teacher-Led Assessment Sample Based Assessment
Periodic observation-based assessments by the Anganwadi worker/Pratham instructor/school teacher to help understand how each child is doing and track progress over the course of the year.

This information is communicated to parents via a Child Report Card with easy-to-understand grading indicators. Pratham uses this as an effective engagement tool for parents.

Baseline and endline assessments of randomly sampled children from intervention and control units conducted by external Pratham observers. Oral, written and observed data is collected on a variety of activities conducted individually and in small and large groups.

Used to understand the impact of Pratham interventions on preschool children enrolled in Balwadis/Anganwadis as compared to children in the same areas who are not part of Pratham interventions.

Data is collected and can be used for analysis to understand overall status of learning gains through Pratham programs.

This instructor or teacher is a local community member, who has a strong understanding of the local context, which helps her effectively interact with children and engage with parents.

The content is based on the child’s immediate surroundings. Activities are conducted with children in varying setups – big groups, small groups and individually – and are supported with contextualized print and play material such as flash cards, story books, story cards, picture cards, beads, clay and locally available objects of daily use.

Children are regularly assessed by instructors through simple activities and observations. Indicators for assessment are such that they are easy to observe, measure and communicate. The findings of these periodic assessments help instructors track children’s progress and are regularly communicated to parents as an engagement tool.

Mothers are also engaged through periodic meetings, creation of mothers’ groups in the community and individual home visits. Mother engagement includes discussions, games and material creation and distribution.

Reach and Scale

In 2020-21, Pratham reached about 492,000 children through its various ECE programs (around 92,000 through direct programs and an estimated 400,000 through government partnerships). Pratham also facilitated the creation of about 37,000 mothers’ groups (as of 2022). 

Pratham’s ECE program is currently active, through either the demonstrations or anganwadi support, in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar and Odisha.

Pratham is in state government partnerships for Early Childhood Education in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana.

Contact

DOCUMENTS

Child Report Card –Click here to read

Early Years Research and Evaluation Summary Note – Click here to read

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