INTRODUCTION

Pratham’s Early Childhood Education program works for the holistic development of children in the age group of 3-6 years through the use of local resources, low-cost and appropriate material and involvement of caregivers. To improve children’s basic abilities, Pratham focuses on five broad developmental domains

Physical Development

Develop fine and gross motor skills, along with pre-writing abilities

Socio-Emotional Development

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

Cognitive Development

Develop basic problem-solving and pre-math abilities such as matching and counting, along with knowledge of colours, shape, symbols etc,

Language Development

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

Creative Development

Develop creative abilities, imagination and aesthetic appreciation

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Context

Early Childhood is a period where brain development is at its peak. Fostering the right developmental abilities in children at this crucial stage has been closely associated with improved outcomes, such as better preparedness for school, enhanced retention and fewer behavioural problems. However, challenges of poverty, malnutrition and the lack of adequate resources can lead to deficiencies in stimulation at this age, which can impede the child’s development, resulting in persistent and exacerbated challenges later in life.

Approach

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 20 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: In the direct approach, a Pratham instructor conducts developmental activities every day with children. This is done either in the community Balwadi centres (set up where government centres are difficult to access) or sometimes within Anganwadi centres and pre-primary classes in government schools. Pratham’s direct work provides an opportunity to demonstrate best practices and experiment with new ideas and techniques. The direct approach is currently implemented in 10 states across India.

ANGANWADI SUPPORT APPROACH: In the Anganwadi Support model, local unpaid volunteers are mobilized from the community to conduct activities in the Anganwadi centres every day. Anganwadi centres are run through the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. These centres aim to provide an integrated package of services to young children and mothers, including immunization, supplementary nutrition, referral services, health check-ups, nutrition and health education and pre-school education. By providing regular training, demonstrating activities at Anganwadi centres, and conducting periodic on-site monitoring, Pratham equips the Anganwadi workers and community-based volunteers with a hands-on understanding of developmental activities to be conducted with children, thus improving the quality of educational inputs. Pratham also works towards the capacity building of the volunteers through different courses aimed at honing their professional competencies. With the objective of transferring learnings to community resources, this model seeks to create anchors in the community who support the growth and learning of young children. The Anganwadi Support approach is implemented in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

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 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. Government partnerships are currently underway in states such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and Telangana.

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 2017-18, Pratham reached about 610,000 children through its various ECE programs (around 15,000 through direct programs, 68,000 through Anganwadi Support programs and an estimated 527,000 children through government partnerships). The state wise reach of the program in terms of number of units is given below.

So far in 2018-19, Pratham has initiated a government partnership for pre-primary education in government schools throughout Himachal Pradesh and has expanded its partnership work in Telangana.

Contact

Documents

Child Report Card – Click here to read

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

 

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