The Delhi government plans to set up Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) centres in Delhi. Delhi’s Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday made the announcement at a programme organised by the Ambedkar University at India Habitat Centre here.
“We are setting up Early Childhood Care & Education Centres in Delhi. Our government is very much serious about this project. We need almost 3,000 ECCE centres,” Sisodia said.
These 3,000 centres, once opened, would prepare about 2.5-3 lakh children for schools over three years.
“But, it would take time to set up 3,000 centres. So, it is my endeavour to start 10 centres on pilot basis in one month. These pilot centres will be opened specifically in slum clusters and unauthorised colonies.”
Sisodia said, “This will help the kids living in slums clusters a lot and prepare them for school education, which most of the time they don’t get.”
He also added later that the per-child spending by the government may be increased.
This service, funded by the government, will be addressed to children of the three-six age-group and will be delivered as close to home as possible. Sisodia hopes to be able to place them within 200-300 meters of their homes and have no more than 50-100 kids attending each school.
At six, children who join the public education system, enrol in Class I in municipal (or Sarvodaya) schools. The ECCE centres, he said, should function in a way that when a six-year-old goes to school, he should be prepared for academic education.
Eventually, these centres will be linked to schools, like municipal school kids are moved to government schools, and teachers will also know what to expect and how far the child has already studied.
“I don’t want books to be involved,” he states, “The focus will be on play, theatre, music, activity-oriented learning. We’ll staff it with people with experience and expertise in the field — it could be academics, NGOs or even those doing it commercially.”
Help for planning the project is being sought from educationists at AUD.
The new centres will operate independent of Anganwadis which, so far, have been the only service for children under six.
Aanganwadis will focus more on health, nutrition and care of mothers while these centres will be dedicated to getting children ready for school and, as Sisodia points out, “schools ready for children.”
“In the name of early childhood education, we have playways and nursery classes, but those lack the broader concept of early childhood care.”
“We will develop ECCE centres in a way where children are taught lessons of life through plays, activities and games. We will run these centres with the help of society and experts,” Sisodia added.