Champa along with other participants at the Global Action Week 2012 on ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ held at the National Balbhawan. New Delhi.
By Sonia Sarkar
NEW DELHI, India, 26 April 2012 ¬ Three-year-old, Champa’s face lights up with a smile. Her fingers dig deep into the colourful clay as she imagines hundreds of little figurines that she could make out of it.
Champa is one of the 200 participants, including school children and teachers, attending the Global Action Week 2012 on ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ (ECCE) held here at the National Balbhawan last week.
Supported by UNESCO and UNICEF, in collaboration with government bodies, civil society organizations, and other partners, the central theme for the Global Action Week 2012 is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and its critical role in India’s overall development.
Special Balbhawan trainers guide Champa’s little fingers through the clay, interacting with many other small children who have chosen clay modeling as a means of learning more about plants and animals, this afternoon.
Laughter rings from the adjoining hall where groups of children all aged two to six years, sit on the floor and watch puppets dancing to Rajasthani folk songs. Others are engaged in crafting paper flowers, storytelling, bird masks and finger painting.
Teachers being trained at Ambdekar University’s ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ (ECCE) and NGO volunteers are also in rapt attention.
“Education is a breakthrough strategy that is essential for reaching all of the Millennium Development Goals. This must start as early as possible and it must be as inclusive as possible, to provide all children with access to quality early care and education. No society should leave any child behind… ECCE is a force for human dignity that carries lifelong benefits. It is a powerful motor for the sustainable development of societies over the longer term,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, in her global message on the EFA Global Action Week 2012.
Every year, millions of infants grow and develop into active young children, ready for school. The care and attention a child receives in the first six years of life — mainly during the first three years — are critical and influence the child for life. With the right mix of affection, attention and stimulation, the children develop cognitive skills by learning through play, exploration, and social interaction.
The teachers and NGO partners accompanying Champa, have been trained in the multiple benefits of ECCE. They are aware that for children it means improved readiness, learning, completion and education efficiency. It nurtures healthy children and reduces later reliance on the health care system and special support. Worldwide, ECCE has been recognized for yielding the greatest investment returns than any other levels of education and training.
In his message, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Dr. Shreeranjan stressed that a healthy start and the holistic development of all the children needs full support from all the stakeholders.
“We need to establish collaborative, innovative and lasting partnerships to ensure that children have positive experiences and achieve the optimum levels of health, nutrition, early care, stimulation and the foundation is laid for lifelong learning,” said Dr. Shreeranjan.
In his concluding remarks, David Mcloughlin, a.i Representative for UNICEF India says ”Ensuring free and quality pre-school education will greatly enhance children’s readiness for schooling and contribute to India’s ability to achieve the Right to Education objectives in the coming years”.