Consortium for Research on Educational Access

Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)
http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]
PRE-PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
CREATEINDIAPOLICY BRIEF1
DECEMBER 2010
PRE-PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
Various typesof pre primary schools areavailablein Indiaand more children are now attending
pre-school (NIPCCD, 2006) indicating an increase in demand for education at this stage. This
overall increase raises questions such as whether this demand has increased everywhere. Are all
children attending pre-schools ifthey areavailable? W hich types of preschools do children
belonging to different socio-economic groups attend? Who are the children totally excluded from
pre primary schooling (zone 0 of the CREATE zones of exclusion)? Drawing onquantitative data
collected intheNational Family Health Survey, DISE (District Information System forEducation)
andtheSeventh All India Education Survey as well asqualitativedata collected through CREATE’s
community and school survey (ComSS) in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh conducted in 2008,
this policy brief presents an analysis of pre-primary education in India and recommends policies for
the improved provision of equitable and quality pre primary schooling.It has been written by
Madhumita Bandyopadhyay and Jagannath Behera
Pre-school Education and Exclusion
Research suggests that pre-primary education is
very important for the development of young
children before they enter formal school (Kaul,
2002). It helps in cognitive development of
children at the early grades of primary education
and it has strong bearing on attendance and
participation of children once they enter primary
school.
Pre-primary education is considered to be very
important for the child as it is the first step
towards entering the world of knowledge as well
as a healthy and purposeful life. Pre-primary
education helps children become more
independent and confident as well as promoting
the all round development of the children
(Ramachandran et al.,2003).
Children who have been to pre-primary schools
tend to learn more rapidly through an organised
curriculum, learning aids and by interacting with
other children. The main purpose of pre-primary
education is to prepare children physically,
emotionally, socially and mentally for formal
schooling and to prevent poor performance and
early drop out. It also helps older children,
particularly girls, to attend their schools making
them free from responsibility of sibling care.
Thus it can be said that pre primary education is
necessary for all children of 3-6 years old
irrespective of their socio-economic background
(Govinda andBandyopadhyay, 2008).With
increasing numbers of nuclear families and a lack
of family support, preprimaryschool education is
gaining importance.
Availability ofqualitypre primary education will
promote inclusive education and meaningful
access to school education byincreasing
enrolment andreducing the vulnerability of
children to failure and drop out at later stages of
education.

PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)
http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]
Policy Initiatives for Pre-School Education in
India
Provision of early childhood care and education,
especially for the most vulnerable and
disadvantaged children,isone of the six
Education For All (EFA) goals. Although there is
no numerical target for reaching thetargetgroup
within a fixed time-frame, governments have been
urged to expand access, improve quality and
ensure equity in Early Childhood Care and
Education(ECCE)services.
Like elsewhere, the importance of pre-primary
schooling has long been recognised by
educational policy and programmes in India and it
has also been a constitutional commitment as a
partof the directive principle of the constitution.
The National policy on Education 1986 (GOI,
1986) and its Plan of Action, (GoI, 1992) have
placedimmense importance on pre-school
education. However, it has not been considereda
fundamental right,nor itis being fully managed by
theeducational departments atnationalor state
level although it is partially supported by the
ongoing flagship educational programme Sarva
Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) which includes a major
component ofECCE.
Whilethe Ministry of Human Resource
Development in India is responsible for
elementary education, the Ministry of Women and
Child Development deals with pre-primary
education.
The Government of India launched the Integrated
Child Development Services (ICDS) schemein
1975. The Department of Women and Child
Development has been implementing the scheme
which seeks to provide health care facilities,
supplementary nutritional support and to improve
children’s communication and cognitive skills as a
preparation for entry into primary school. Initially
the programme started as a project in some
states but presently it covers many rural and tribal
areas along with some urban pockets targeting
mainly underprivileged children. The SSA
envisages providing preschool education in
convergence withtheICDS programme.
Present Status of Pre Primary Education
In India, preschool education is provided by
private schools andgovernmentICDS
(Anganwadi)centres. In addition, there are some
ECCE centres running under SSA and some
preschoolsareattached togovernment as well as
private schools.
According to the estimate given by the Seventh
All India Education Survey (NCERT, 2005), there
are 493,700 pre-primary institutions in India, out
of which 456,994 are in rural areas. These
schoolsserve26.453 million children of which
12.829 million are girls according to DISE (District
Information System for Education) data (2007-
08). The percentage of enrolment inprimary
schools with pre-primary facilitiesis low.It was
10%in 2007-08 compared to 7.7% in 2004-05.
The highest percentage of pre-primary enrolment
in primary schools isin Madhya Pradesh (19.6%)
and the lowest of5.0%in Bihar(Mehta, 2010).
The third round (2005-06) of National Family
Health Survey data (IIPS, 2007) shows that
around 56%of childrenin pre schoolare enrolled
inAnganwadis(ICDS Centres) for early childhood
care and education. Among them only 31%of
children are attending the centres regularly. A
large variation is also found in access to early
childhood care and educationacross the states.
Access to Pre Primary Education inMadhya
Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
ComSSdata collected by CREATE from one
district (Rajnandgaon) in Chhattisgarh and two
districts (Rewa and Dindori) in Madhya Pradesh
suggests that enrolment rates inpre-primary
school vary considerably across the three clusters
and between social groups.
Around70%of childrenareenrolled invarious
types ofpreprimaryeducation in these three
clusters (comprising 36 villages). The highest
enrolment has been recorded in Rajnandgaon
district (89%) followed by Dindori (81%) and
Rewa (35%).Although the majority ofthese
children are attendingAnganwadi(ICDS centres),
a considerable proportion of children are also
attending privateschools. A higher proportion
attends private pre primary educationin Rewa
compared to Rajnandgaon. Intheabsence of
private schools,almost all the children inthetribal
dominated villages in Dindori are enrolled in
Anganwadi.
Figure 1 shows that a highproportion of children
belonging to scheduled tribes(ST)areenrolled in
pre-primary education followed by other backward
classes (OBC), scheduled caste(SC)and
childrenfrom other social groups.

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PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)
http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]
Figure-1:Percentage of children enrolled in
pre-primary education bysocial group
Source: Household Data, 2008
The quality of pre-primary education for the tribal
children in tribal area is poor due to lack of
qualified teachers and supervisory staff (NIPCCD,
1992). Availability of free food in theAnganwadi
centres may be thecauseofhigh enrolment in
poortribal areas.
At the time ofthefield visit, we found that less
than half of the children amongthetotal enrolled
are attending pre-primary education.Among
children belonging to scheduled tribes whoattend
pre-primary school approximately 95% of children
go toAnganwadicentres, whereas 45%of
children belonging toothercastesgo to
Anganwadis(Figure2). The children fromother
castesaccount forthehighest proportionofthe
children whoattendprivate pre-primary education
asthese are the children whose parents can
afford to pay for such school.
Figure-2: Children in different social groupsin
different pre primary schools
Source: Household Data, 2008
One study (NCERT, 2006) shows that boys’
enrolment is higher than girls’ enrolment in pre-
primary schools. Our field survey data shows that
in pre-primary education boys’enrolmentin
Anganwadisis slightly less than girls.But in
private pre-primary schools the boys’ enrolment is
much higher as compared to girls.
Childrenwhose fathers are employed in the
service sector account for the highest proportion
in total enrolment in pre-school education
followed by children whose father are employed
as a labourer or engaged in farming. From the
data it isclearthat most of the children belonging
to tribalgroupsare enrolled inAnganwadis(ICDS
centres).
Although most of the childrenareenrolledonlya
small proportion attendpre-primary education
regularly. These children are mostly from poorer
households who cannot afford private pre-primary
schooleven though it is available locallyandalso
because oftheavailability of free food in these
centres.
Policy Recommendations
From the above discussion it is clear that there is
a considerable variation in access to pre-primary
education among children between 3 to 6 years
old with diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Children belonging to marginalised groups in
society, particularly girls, depend on public pre-
primary schools, whereas those belonging to
higher socio-economic groups are more likely to
attending private schools.Since education of
childrenbetween 3-6 years oldis nota
fundamental right, it is notlegally mandated.
Because of this preschool education is suffering
from inadequate coverage and poor quality
benefitingvery few children.
However, it is an important constitutional
commitment as itispart of the Directive Principle
andis also one of the EFA goals. It also as
mentioned earlier has a significant positive effect
on sustained meaningful access to education,so
it shouldbe given immediate attention in view of
its important role in children’s lives.
?The quality of teaching inpublic pre primary
Anganwadicentres is unsatisfactory due toalack
of trained teachers.The government needs to
invest in animprovement of quality of services in
Anganwadicentres including pre-school
education, which will improve the learning
achievement of children at pre-primary stage.

PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)
http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]
?Provision of equitable accesstoall eligible
children in the countryrequiresexpandingthe
coverage of the ICDS programme by opening
more pre-school centres or attaching such
provision to existing government primary schools.
Many states have already started these initiatives
but the situation is far from satisfactory.
?To ensure the quality of preschool education it
is important to provide well qualified and trained
teachersfor pre primary schools.
?More focus is needed for quality pre-primary
education for disadvantaged groups living in poor
and remote areas. The pre-primary education
componentof the ICDS programme although
evident on paper is often non-existent in reality.
?Facilities are important and must besafe,
healthy and suitable environments for young
children.
?Free food distributed in pre primary schools
plays an important role in attracting the poorest
sections of society to attend regularly and
averting nutritional problems. These schemes
should be maintained and expanded.
?The play materialsin mostof theAWCsvisited
arelocked up in cupboards. This seems be a
result of a fairly common belief that expensive
and attractive things are too precious to be
handled by children and need to be brought out
for display only during inspections. The same is
the case with library books in schools.Materials in
pre primary schools should be made available to
children to use, regularly inspected, updated and
replaced.
?Different government departments need to
implement pre-school education in a coordinated
manner avoiding duplication and overlapping of
interventions.
?The monitoring and evaluation ofexisting
programmes such as ICDS and ECCE is another
important issue that needs to be carried out more
frequently to supplement the inputs into these
programmes. This also plays a crucial role for
better planning and policy implementation to
ensure wide coverage of quality pre-primary
education in the future.
References
?GoI Government of India (1986) National
Policy on Education1986. New Delhi: Ministry of
Human Resource Development.
?GoI. (1992)National Policy on Education
1986: Programme of Action 1992, New Delhi:
Ministry of Human Resource Development.
?Govinda, R and Madhumita Bandyopadhyay
(2008)Access to Elementary Education in India:
Country Analytical Review.New Delhi/Brighton:
NUEPA and University of Sussex.
?IIPS International Institute for Population
Science and Macro International (2007)National
Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), 2005-06.
Mumbai: International Institute for Population
Sciences.
?Kaul, Venita (2002) Early Childhood Care and
Education.In: R Govinda (ed.) (2002)India
Education Report. New Delhi: Oxford University
Press.
?Mehta, A.C. (2010) Analytical Report 2007-08,
Elementary Education in India: Progress towards
UEE, New Delhi: NUEPA.
?NCERT National Council of Educational
Research and Training. (2005)Seventh All India
Educational Survey, Provisional Statistics as on
September 30, 2002.New Delhi: NCERT.
?NCERT. (2006)National Focus Group on
Early Childhood Education. Position paper. New
Delhi: NCERT.
?NIPCCD National Institute of Public
Cooperation and Child Development. (1992)
National Review of ICDS.New Delhi: NIPCCD.
?NIPCCD. (2006)Three decades of ICDS-An
Appraisal. New Delhi: NIPCCD.
?Ramchandran, V., Jandhyala, K. and Saihjee,
A. (2003) Through the Life Cycle of Children:
Factors that Facilitate/Impede Successful
Primary School Completion.Economic and
Political Weekly, 22-28 November, 38(47) pp.
4994-5002.
This Policy Brief has been written byMadhumita
Bandyopadhyay and Jagannath Beherabased on
data from CREATE’s research in Madhya
Pradesh and Chhattisgarhas well assecondary
sources.
CREATEis a DFID-funded research
programme consortia exploring issues of
educational access, transitions and equity in
South Africa, India, Bangladesh and Ghana.
For more information go to:www.create-rpc.org

PRE PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA
Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)
http://www.create-rpc.orgTel: 00 44 (0)[email protected]