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Educationworld Early Childhood Education Global Conference 2015

The objective of the 5th consecutive annual EW ECE Global Conference was to impact the critical importance of early childhood care and education on the somnolent Central and state governments, and to provide a platform for international and indigenous experts to share best practices. Summiya Yasmeen

Convened at Mumbai’s nexgen Grand Hyatt Hotel on January 23, the 5th EW Early Childhood Education Global Conference 2015, attracted enthusiastic response from over 265 promoters, principals and teachers of India’s top-ranked pre-primaries and K-12 schools, who crowded the hotel’s massive 11,612 sq. ft fully-wired conference hall. As in the previous four global conferences staged in Mumbai and Bangalore by EducationWorld, the objective of this year’s conference was also to impact the critical importance of early childhood care and education (ECCE) upon the somnolent Central and state governments, and to provide a platform for international and indigenous experts to share best practices to enable accelerated professionalisation of ECCE in India.

Sponsored by Navneet Education (Mumbai), Popcorn Furniture (Delhi), Gait (Bangalore), Com-Sur (Mumbai), and Afairs Media & Exhibitions (Kolkata), the day-long conference featured two keynote addresses and panel discussions. The first keynote address ‘Getting to the Heart and Mind of Learning: New Discoveries and Developments in ECCE’ was delivered by Ellen Booth Church, former early childhood assistant professor at the State University of New York and currently an adjunct professor at Nova South-eastern University, USA. A prolific author on a diverse range of ECCE subjects, and education consultant to the Kinderpillar preschools in India and Nepal, Booth Church detailed a number of research studies highlighting the importance of not just cognitive, but also social and emotional learning in the early years for success in school and later life.

With the newly elected BJP-led NDA government at the Centre reassessing the National ECCE policy of the Union ministry of women and child development (WCD) approved by its predecessor UPA government in September 2013, the second keynote address by Dr. Renu Singh, country director (India) of Young Lives, an international study programme (led by Oxford University) of childhood poverty in four countries, focused on the theme ‘NECCE Policy: Opportunities and Challenges’. In her address, Dr. Singh highlighted the grey areas of NECCE, and suggested ways and means to fortify the policy to deliver ECCE to all 158 million children in the 0-5 age group countrywide. 

Against the backdrop of the many cases of sexual abuse and molestation of young children reported in schools over the past year, the first panel discussion deliberated ‘Child safety: a neglected issue in pre-primary education’. Panelists included Jacinth Portess (Indus Early Learning Centre, Bangalore), Madhukar Sanke (Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mumbai), Carrie Udeshi (Kangaroo Kids parent), and Shalini Ahuja (Safe Baby, Mumbai), with Dilip Thakore (EducationWorld) moderating.

The second panel comprised Swati Popat Vats (president of the Early Childhood Association (estb. 2010) which has a membership of 970 preschools); Prriety Gosalia (Leapbridge International preschools); Jeremy Williams (Griffith University, Australia); and Kumaraesen Subramaniam (Asian International College, Singapore) with Summiya Yasmeen (EducationWorld) as chair. It discussed ‘Are preschools succumbing to parental pressure for early reading, writing and numeracy?’

Because of generous time allocated for speaker-delegates interaction, the addresses and panel discussions elicited lively audience participation. The keynote address and panel discussions were interjected with the presentation of the EW India Preschool Rankings 2014 Awards, during which trophies and certificates were presented to Top 20 preschools rated and ranked in a survey conducted by the Delhi-based market research agency C fore in 10 cities (see EW December 2014).

In the pages following, we present abbreviated versions of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the EW Early Childhood Education Global Conference 2015.

 

Conference Resolution

At the conclusion of the EW ECE Global Conference 2015, a resolution as under was passed by an overwhelming majority of delegates and forwarded to the prime minister and chief ministers of all states of the Indian Union:

1. Raise education spending to 6 percent of GDP, of which 1.5 percent  should be allocated for early childhood care and education.

2. Prescribe and implement a national curriculum framework for early childhood teacher training for the age group 0-8 years.

The teacher training programme should be of minimum one year duration with a lab school attached to the programme.

3. Implement the National ECCE Policy as prepared by the Union ministry of women and child development in all states of the Union with state governments prohibited from making additions or deletions. Every child in India has a right to quality early childhood care and education as defined in the policy.

4. Ensure all anganwadi centres countrywide follow the curriculum guidelines prescribed by the NECCE Policy. The ECCE  curriculum should be age-appropriate and focus on holistic development of children.5. Ensure parent education and involvement is an integral part of every early childhood programme.

 

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