Early Childhood Care and Education: Early Intervention, Ecce in the Indian and Global Context

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Early Intervention

Developmental milestones are the age-specific acquisition of skills and competencies in each domain. Children under normal circumstances are expected to achieve the milestones in their respective domain i.e. it is expected that certain competencies would appear at particular age ranges. If children lag behind the normal pattern of growth, they may have developmental delay.

Early Intervention

Early Intervention

  • That means that children do not achieve the developmental milestones at the expected times. They fail to progress at the same pace and reach the milestones as expected of them at that particular age. There can be various reasons for developmental delays in children such as heredity, complications during pregnancy or childbirth, illnesses, and accidents after birth.

  • It is important to observe the signs of developmental delay in children to provide them appropriate and timely intervention. Early intervention means taking necessary actions as early as possible to work on children’s developmental and learning needs, thus reducing the effects of any developmental delay.

  • It means introducing the right kind of interventions in children’s life as early as possible when their mind is most receptive to learning new things. Therefore, regular health check-ups of children should be undertaken, and a health record should be maintained.

  • If any problem is diagnosed or reported early, it can then be immediately attended to. Physical and sensory impairments especially impede children’s development. For example, if any child has sensory impairment, that child might find it difficult to interact well with the environment.

  • This may have ripple effects and the child’s language and socio-emotional development may also slow down. If a child is called repeatedly and the child does not respond, it may be that the child has difficulty in hearing. Similarly, if a child does not speak even after a certain age, then he may need support to acquire the skill of speaking as per age. Thus, timely identification helps to provide early intervention to children.

  • If a child’s developmental delays are not addressed on time, then these temporary delays may become permanent. Any intervention given at a later stage will not be sufficient to catch up. Large numbers of children in our country are susceptible to multiple risk factors in the early years of life including poor health, malnutrition and low levels of stimulation in the home environment.

  • So, it is even more important to detect early developmental lags and provide corrective inputs for it.

Ecce in the Indian Context

  • In India, the early pioneers of early childhood education include Gijubhai Badheka, Tarabai Modak, and Maria Montessori. Gijubhai Badheka believed that good education is very important for the proper development of children. For this, he founded ‘BalMandir’, a preschool in Bhavnagar, Gujarat in 1920.

  • Tarabai Modak also made significant contributions in the field of preschool education in India. In 1926, she founded the Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh in erstwhile Bombay, now Mumbai. Here, children from different backgrounds learnt through activities and real-life experiences.

  • The Montessori Method founded by Maria Montessori is an approach to preschool education. It has had a profound influence on the lives of young children all over the world. It is intended to support the natural development of children in a well-prepared environment.

  • The writings of great Indian educational thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Zakir Hussain have also drawn attention to the care and education of children during the formative years of life.

  • The Government of India has made significant contributions to improve the accessibility and quality of education provided to young children. In 1975, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme was launched by Government of India to address health, nutrition and the development needs of children under six years.

  • In recent years, the focus on ECCE in the Five-Year Plans and formulation of the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy, 2013 in India has further opened opportunities of access to quality care and early education by young children. Private un-aided ECCE centers such as nurseries, kindergartens and pre-primary sections in private schools also deliver preschool education in the country, especially in urban areas. In addition, several NGOs have also been conducting the ECCE programmes.

Ecce in the Global Context

  • ECCE Global recognition started in 1989 with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which is an international agreement for child rights. It intended to protect and promote the wellbeing of children in terms of their survival, health, education and protection.

  • The World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 emphasized that ‘learning begins at birth’ and promoted early care and education as a must that needs to be provided through the involvement of families and communities.

  • World Education Forum held in Dakar; Senegal in April 2000 also reiterated the importance of ECCE. It reaffirmed that education is a fundamental human right and set objectives for achieving Education for All (EFA) goals to ensure basic education for all children. Recently, World Education Forum held in 2015 at Incheon, Republic of Korea, set up the goal for sustainable development recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development by 2030.

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