From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Anganwadis
Mains level : Features of New Education Policy
Draft NEP on early childhood education
- All Indian children could soon enter the formal education system at the age of three, with the draft National Education Policy (NEP) projecting an expansion of the RTE Act.
- It aims to cover the three years of preschool before Class 1.
- It wants early childhood education to be overseen and regulated by the Ministry of HRD as part of the school system.
- This will be in addition to the private pre-schools and anganwadis that currently cater to the 3-to-6 years age group.
- The draft Policy suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards.
Upheaval of Anganwadi System
- The NEP could result in an upheaval in the anganwadi system which has been overseen by the Ministry of WCD for more than four decades.
- Additional costs will come in the form of teacher recruitment and training, infrastructure and learning materials, as well as nutritional aspects (including the proposal to provide breakfast to young children).
- The draft Policy praises the contribution of anganwadis to improving health and nutrition, but notes that their record in education is not so strong.
Flaws in Anganwadis
- They are currently quite deficient in supplies and infrastructure for education.
- As a result, they tend to contain more children in the 2-4 year age range and fewer in the educationally critical 4-6 year age range.
- They also have few teachers trained in or specially dedicated to early childhood education.
Anganwadis can do better
- The new framework would be implemented by training and strengthening anganwadi capabilities and linking them to a local primary school, co-locating anganwadis and pre-schools with primary schools, or building stand-alone pre-schools also linked to a local primary school.