EFSL held a Policy Dialogue via zoom on Early Childhood Education and the way to move forward on Saturday, the 27th of June 2020. It was attended by primary school principals, researchers, university lecturers and teachers.
Presenter: Dr Ravi Nanayakkara, Project Director, Early Childhood Development Project, Ministry of Women & Child Affairs
Watch video here.
Summary of presentation and discussion:
- Early Childhood is defined as period between 0-5 years
- 0-2 is home-based care and the Ministry of Health has on-going programs using Public Health Nurses, Public Health Midwives and the Medical Officers of Health
- 3 to 5 years is the period that ECE usually operates
- Golden 1000 Days in a childâ€™s life is critical, because brain growth is maximum during this period. About 85% of brain growth of an entire life happens during early childhood. Maximum neuroplasticity, myelination, connectivity through synaptogenesis and differentiation of brain cells occur best in the Golden 1000 day period. Unless stimulation and nutrition are adequate during this period, brain growth will falter.
- Brain growth occurs through 4 facets : Physical growth, Socio-emotional growth, Cognitive growth & development & Communication skills.
- At birth the size of the brain is 350 g and it reaches a maximum of 1.4 kg eventually.
- Since this period of early childhood is very important for the reasons given above, increased financial/other investment during this period will bring high returns. However if investment is poor the RoI will be poor.
- GOSL has been investing an average of 0.0001% of GDP on ECE. (The average investment for all education has been ~ 1.75% of GDP). Investments in other countries = 0.1% Nepal, 0.1% Malaysia, with more developed countries such as Finland, Singapore investing much more.
- Only 56% of the age cohort (3-5) are enrolled in preschools. (Whereas primary school enrollment is 98%)
- Prescribed infrastructure, classrooms, indoor/outdoor playgrounds are not available in the majority of preschools
- GOSL: Private, NGO, INGO funding/management (= 1:4)
- Teachers: Aâ€™Level qualified 41%, Trained in ECE 39%
- ECE is a devolved subject as per 13A of the Constitution, just like Education. PCs have statutes and monitoring responsibility. Every PC has an officer dedicated with responsibility in ECE.
- Way forward –
- RESPONSIBILITY: Get clarity On regulatory authority, and implementation responsibility for curricula, standards, infrastructure, teacher training, parental awareness and education and tracking of children age 1-5 and their readiness for primary schooling. Currently there are five entities with responsibility.
- FUNDING: Increase from 0.0001 to to the figure should be 0.03% (as a % of GDP). We are way below global norms or oeerbAsian norms
- ALLOCATION: Develop a mechanism to support private providers who constitute 85% of providers (The providers are micro enterprises mostly led by women. There livelihoods should not be jeopardized)
- WHAT NOT TO DO: Beware of (1) schoolification of early childhood education; (2) Negative effects on livelihoods of current providers; and (3) Duplication of good work by MoH and others.