Early Childhood in India: Early Childhood Care and Education

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  • Most Old-World civilizations did not consider childhood an important period of life that needed special attention and identity. Historically, childhood was not an independent social category until the beginning of the 18th century. Families were occupied together, and children learnt tasks of life by being a part of family and community. After the Industrial Revolution, when machines replaced men, there was a division in adult roles. Children’s employment in factories led to the first collective uprising demanding that children be protected.

  • With the understanding that childhood is for learning to be independent, new forms of teaching children took shape. Schooling became an important part of social fabric. Now, societies are talking about compulsory schooling. Slowly, changes in people’s lives have raised demand for out-of-family childcare support.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Early Childhood

  • Children are vulnerable, especially when very young. They need to be cared and protected with opportunities to realize their potential despite the varying contexts depending on geographical location, social conditions and biological disposition. Legally, children are those under 18 years of age. It is also important to examine social geographies of children which really means the environment and ecology of where they live.

  • Children’s experiences, poverty, dysfunctional families, working children, child homelessness are social contexts affecting them. If children are provided healthy meals, love, care and opportunity for exploration in safe environments, they will thrive and realize their optimal potential.

  • However, if families are living in difficult circumstances with difficulty in daily living, with little resources for food, clothing and shelter, children are bound to be deprived. Family by force may not be fully available to meet the needs of children leading to children being ignored. These are extreme situations; however, there are multiple factors that influence children and their situations.

Children and Childhood

Children and Childhood

Children and Childhood

Each culture defines children and childhood differently, which is due to the evolution of the cultural consciousness of people of those cultures over centuries. These shape how people within cultures behave with and relate to children. Childhood is generally a time of playing, learning, socializing, exploring, and worrying in a world without much adult interference, aside from parents.

Status and Profile of Young Children in India

  • Children are the future of the nation. A nation progresses when its citizens are healthy, educated, and economically independent and contribute to national growth. Currently, progress of nations is evaluated not merely by economic assets but also by the status of the young and the old. Infant mortality rate, longevity and the literacy rate are important determinants of the Human Development Index (HDI).

  • India is a multi-cultural pluralistic society where people of different religions, languages, social backgrounds, and economic backgrounds co-exist in diverse social environments. It is a vast nation with a population of more than 1.21 billion people, the second-most populous country in the world.

Demographic Profile of Children in India

  • Statistical figures indicate disadvantage faced by large chunks of the population. The figures are distressing due to uneven distribution of economic resources, lack of access and awareness. Lack of resources and low buying power leads to ill health, high-density living and unhygienic living conditions.

  • Certain figures provide an idea of the poor state of health of children and ability of families to provide for children. As in most countries, many surveys have been conducted to understand the state of children in India.

Child Morbidity and Mortality

  • Child mortality refers to total number of child deaths under the age of five years per 1000 live births. Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of one year. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), i.e. the number of deaths of children less than one year of age per 1000 live births.

  • There is an increase in institutional births, and there is more medical attention for newborns. In 2015-2016, 2.5% of newborns received medical attention within 24 hours as compared to 0.3% ten years ago.

  • Infant Mortality Rate(IMR) has gone down from 57 to 41 in the last ten years. Reasons for lack of survival are infection, disease and lack of hygienic living conditions.

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