Ritesh Rawal, founder, Dudes & Dolls World, Adhyay School and Ritesh Rawal Foundation
One of the key areas on which our education system needs to focus is the integration of skill education, innovation, and entrepreneurship in early childhood education.
Over the last few years, we have seen a huge surge in government initiatives related to skilling including policy-level initiatives and establishment of a dedicated skill development ministry, among others. These initiatives have the potential to drive the overall process of job creation in the economy.
Similarly, we have also witnessed a surge in entrepreneurship and innovation-related initiatives which are closely linked with each other and these initiatives have had a very positive impact on the process of economic growth and development.
However, in order to make the most of this momentum, we need to start asking questions about how can we make the start of the funnel stronger? And the start of the funnel in this case is early childhood education.
Early childhood education is the start point of formal learning; it is the stage when we can sow seeds that can be harvested later, and one of the seeds we need to sow is developing an innovation-oriented approach towards the integration of skill education, innovation, and entrepreneurship in early childhood education. We can achieve this goal through the following ways:
- Curriculum structuring: The first and foremost step is the development of a curriculum that can integrate these concepts in the form of a process, special exposure. Focus on curriculum development is the start point that sets the development framework of early childhood education model.
- Role of the early childhood teacher: It is really important to define the role of the teachers at this stage because it is the teachers who facilitate the curriculum. Defining the role of the teacher at this stage is the most important milestone.
- Capacity building of teachers: After defining the role of teachers, it is important to focus on capacity building of teachers. Teachers should be imparted training on how to enable development of the kids at this stage of life and how to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and skill development.
- Designing industry-education partnership: Early childhood is a stage in which the main focus is on the development of children rather than focusing on education. The role of industry partners is really important because once educators become aware of the relevant industry practices, they can apply their learning to accordingly design schools, prepare teachers, and hire support staff.
- Innovation in child development practices: Integration of skill education, entrepreneurship and innovation will bring a big change in early childhood education and that’s the reason it will be difficult to implement without having an innovative approach towards developing early childhood development practices. There is a need to look at early childhood education in a slightly different manner, for example presently, early childhood education programmes are not considered a specialised programme; they are considered by all the stakeholders merely as a stepping stone to a senior school and at times looked upon as “play” activities only. There is an urgent need to change this mindset.
To conclude, we have been witnessing many positive changes in the early childhood education space such as the introduction of a new education policy, and recognition of early childhood education as a crucial component of foundational learning. The next phase of changes should be directed towards introducing the new elements of skilling, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the early stage. This will make the foundational education of children extremely strong.
Also read: Early childhood education needs a re-think