The seven important contributors and founders of Early Childhood Care and Education in India, also called ECCE, have together contributed immensely to the current philosophy of preschool education. Let us have a look at their contributions and how it got recognized as a universal philosophy of ECCE.
In this article:
- The 7 contributors and founders of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).
- ECCE – The concept.
- Components of ECCE.
- ECCE as per UNESCO.
- ECCE – The precursor of productive childhood.
- Reasons why ECCE is the precursor of productive adulthood.
Here are the 7 contributors and founders of ECCE in India.
The contribution of Friedrich Froebel in early childhood education opened a new chapter in the history of preschool education with the concept called Kindergarten, a German term which means Garden of Children.
He also came up with the beautiful and powerful motto: Come, let us live for our children.
As per Froebel, play was the essence of all the activities of a child in school. He firmly believed that as the growth of entire tree depends on the seed, the growth of the child entirely depends on the personality that is hidden in him or her.
The personality of a child has to therefore be nurtured by creating a congenial atmosphere by the teacher (as well as parents), just as a gardener nurtures the seed.
The basic idea behind Montessori System of Education was to provide real life experiences for the child to stimulate their senses, with a strong emphasis on the importance of freedom in the learning situation with limited guidance.
The most important contribution of Maria Montessori in early childhood education, are the 8 principles of Montessori education, which together stressed broadly upon two things:
- Self-Directed Activity
The activities in Montessori classroom are designed in such a way that the social values such as cooperation and sharing were inculcated in children right from the early years itself.
3. John Dewey
The main contribution of John Dewy in early childhood education is the concept of Laboratory School. He opened up a school and experimented with his methods of learning and discovered that there are more natural ways of teaching as well as learning.
The school also adopted the problem-solving method of learning, wherein the child would be given challenges of certain life situations and is facilitated and encouraged to solve it.
Dewey’s philosophy also supported self-study through discovery, similar to Montessori philosophy.
Since we are looking at the important contributors and founders of early childhood care and education in India, it’s time to look into the most eminent educationists from India too.
Mahatma Gandhiji’s philosophy of education stated that, true education is something that brings out the best in a child in terms of his or her body, heart, mind and spirit.
He also added that a sound education system should have the capacity to tap the physical, intellectual and emotional faculties of a child.
It was with this idea that the government of India re-framed the concept of basic education as: Education for life and Education through life.
The two primary views of Tagore are:
- The realization of harmony between life and environment
- Freedom or liberation
He strongly believed that these two aspects allows a man to relate himself with the universe and joyful learning. Later with his view he designed a modern school called Shantiniketan, which means Abode of peace.
The ancient Gurukul system of education was adopted for this model school. He also advocated three principles in a school system in his curriculum for the holistic development of children. They are:
With his ideology on real education, Gijubhai started a school called Bal Mandir.
He strongly believed that the individuality of a child has to be respected, and that the role of an adult is to just guide him/her in the right direction.
Though started with Montessori materials to facilitate learning, he later designed inexpensive and locally available tools for learning and made use of it.
Tharabai is regarded as a pioneer in child-based welfare programs and preschool education system in India. Her task of setting up preschools in the rural areas to cater to the needs of local children has gained great significance and value since its inception.
It was Tarabai by who evolved the concept of Anganwadi. The word Angan in Hindi language means a courtyard or open space.
Anganwadi is a place where motherly village women trained in basic principles of child care would devote their time for the welfare of the children of that area.
Contributors & Founders’ Contribution to the Philosophy of ECCE
The philosophy of ECCE in India was obtained from these seven eminent educationists’ contributions, which are as follows:
- Basic education for all, irrespective of their socio-economic status
- Education should cater to the holistic development of children and should address each and every domain of their development
- Blended method of teaching-learning should be adopted in such a way that every child’s individuality is respected, taken care of and facilitated to manifest itself
Three key elements should be at the core of early childhood education, namely:
- Freedom and Joy in learning
- Social and Human Values inculcation
- Fostering Self-Control and Self-Discipline
ECCE – The Concept
As we all know, learning begins at birth, and a child’s home becomes the first place of learning.
Early Childhood Care and Education refers to a bundle of integrated and stimulating activities or experiences designed specifically for children from 0 to 6 years.
The key objective of ECCE is to foster children’s holistic development, care and learning.
Components of ECCE
ECCE is also conceptualized by the national policy on education into two components:
- Early stimulation for the children of 0 to 3 years
- Providing and organized centre based preschool education for children of 3 to 6 years
The first component along with preschool education, i.e. early stimulation, is the feature of Integrated Child Development Services in India (ICDS) a government of India initiative. ICDS adopts a lifecycle approach by targeting adolescent girls, mothers and as well as a child’s all-round development.
The second component, which is the organized preschool education, exists in the form of Preschools, Kindgartens and Preparatory schools. As of today, the preschool education exists without an important component – health and nutrition. The said component is being taken care by the private sector for almost 90% of the existing programs.
The terms care and education in early childhood care and education are inseparable, as both are essential and reinforce each other to create a strong foundation for a child’s continuous learning and holistic well-being.
The component care includes health, nutrition and hygiene in a secure nurturing environment.
The component education would provide stimulation, socialization, guidance, participation, learning and developmental activities.
ECCE as per UNESCO
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) refers to the widely used term ECCE as:
A range of processes and mechanisms that sustain and support development during the early years of life. It encompasses:
- Physical Care
- Social and Emotional Care
- Intellectual Stimulation
- Health Care
It also includes the support of family and community which is needed to provide children healthy development.
ECCE – The Precursor of Productive Childhood
The most vital question as regards early childhood care and education that has to be answered is: “How can education imparted to a child at the age of two and three years be the precursor to a productive adulthood?”
“Research shows that the learning gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children can show up as early as nine months of age. A study showed that by age three, children of low-income families had half the vocabulary of more advantaged families. What’s more, disadvantaged children can begin primary school as much as 18 months behind their more-advantaged classmates.”
An overview of 56 studies across 23 countries that found that ECCE program can have a profound impact on health, education, cognitive ability and emotional development.
The summary of a study by Nobel Laureate James Heckman found that participants in an early childhood program in Jamaica had 25% higher wages 20 years after the intervention. With all these inputs, among others, UNICEF has also pointed out that investing in early childhood development is the best investment a nation can make.
Reasons Why ECCE is the Precursor of Productive Adulthood
The reasons that are being cited why ECCE is the precursor of productive adulthood are:
- It has proven that children who receive proper care, nutrition and stimulation during the first five years do much better in school and in life
- It could also be seen that children who participated in ECCE earn 25% more than those who didn’t participate when they become adults
- Most of all, it helps children’s brain grow strong and healthy
UNICEF also adds that the brain of a child who is well nourished and well nurtured, read to, played with, and is protected from factors like stress and conflict; has the best chance of developing to its potential.
Moreover UNICEF endorses to findings of researchers that the return on investment (ROI) on ECCE can be anywhere between $4 to $12 return per $1 invested.
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