Early childhood plays a pivotal role in shaping a child’s life and towards better formal education. Children enrolled in preschool behave and have a better IQ, improved social skills and enhanced attention span. Right to Education Act (Article 21A) through 86th Amendment of the Constitution was driven with an ideology of an egalitarian society; uplifting the values of equality, social justice, and inclusive education for all. The States were compelled to provide free and compulsory education for the age group from 6-14. The intendment of RTE was attained by getting 96% children to school. Our nation has made emblematic improvement in terms of access, but in terms of quality, it seems to be confronted with a huge challenge. The findings of National Achievement Survey covering grade 3, 6, 8 and 10, reflect that the learning levels do not accord with the expected outcomes. HDI, PISA, ASER have reflected substandard teaching and learning outcomes.
On the contrary when we look at Finland, a country which has the highest global test scores and number one global ranking does not believe in preparing children to take tests; rather preparing children to learn how to learn. The educators are not driven by data initiated curriculum or standardized tests or rote memorization. According to them if you measure statistics you miss out on human aspect. Educators, who run the public funded schools, take out 17.5% graduates, higher than US with 30% with less money spent per student. Finland’s 62000 educator professionals, selected from 10% of the nation’s graduates, earn a master’s degree in education. The transformation of Finn s education system took place 40 years back as a pressing, inescapable instrument towards economic recovery.
In India Rabindranath Tagore identified lack of basic education as the fundamental cause of many evils as he said “in my view the imposing tower of misery which today rests on the heart of India has its sole foundation in the absence of education”. Tagore believed in self motivation rather than on discipline and on fostering intellectual curiosity rather than competitive excellence. He dropped out of school due to boredom. Shantiniketan ran on meagre endowment and its distinguished alumnae’s include Indira Gandhi, Amartya Sen, and Satyajit Ray. The Catholic spirit of Brahmo Samaj permeated the tranquil air of Santiniketan.
The National Education Policy (2016) released after 25 years over that access should to be supplemented by quality; as the Oslo summit, last year has underlined. The new education policy intends to deliver inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for a knowledge based economy. The policy intends to focus on the role of education inculcating values and skills, competencies amongst citizens and enabling them to contribute to the nation’s wellbeing. Ironically Article 21A excludes children in the age group of 0-6 from the ambit of fundamental right to have basic nutritional needs. Article 45 merely enjoins upon the states to provide early childhood care till they complete the age of 6. The unsatisfactory functioning of the Anganwadi systems (ICDS) scheme has resulted in 40% of India’s children suffering from malnutrition as per HDR report 2015. The new educational policy (2016) resealed after 30 years seems to uphold the old process of access to be supplemented by quality.
The new education policy (2016) envisions a credible high performing education system capable of ensuring inclusive quality education, lifelong learning process opportunities to participate and respond to the fast changing, ever globalizing knowledge based economy. It aims at equitable, inclusive and quality education for all-children, youth and adult, emphasizes on India’s rich heritage, glorious past, great traditions and heterogeneous culture; uplifting peace, tolerance, secularism and national integration. The overall objective and goals identified by the policy is ensure equitable access to education from early childhood to tertiary with a strong focus on quality, reformation of curriculum, pedagogue, assessment, teacher quality and performance.
The most important objective is to research a creative, value based, developmental curriculum which captivates the mind of the students towards joyful learning, and will keep them enthralled to school. The emphasis needs to be on student driven learning environment where learning is curiosity encompassed and not pressure based, and which addresses the need of the rapidly changing world of knowledge. Assessments must be on a daily basis check and unit objectives must revolve around the student learning outcome. The changing social context of education, where learners have greater access to current information from non institutional means, makes it imperative on the to bring about an engrossing and fascinating teaching methodology. Educators are required to be empathetic, stress free to inculcate a fright free, encouraging inquisitiveness in children. The need of the hour is for continuous professional development programs for teachers with an adequate supply of competent qualified teachers conjointly ensuring increased allocation. As a matter of fact facilitating children need to be taken as the most serious profession and the drive has to come from within; furthermore warranting the fact that let children discover joy in their learning and they will be enquirers. Let them find warmth in their teachers and they will be risk takers. Let them find happiness and it will reflect in quality learning outcome. Furthermore enabling children to discover joy in their learning will lead to procreating researchers and give life to quality life outcomes.