After a journey spanning 8 years, with 15 publications, over 692 workshops and touching over 7 lakh teachers, the Early Childhood Association (ECA) has now launched its Association for Primary Education and Research (APER).
“This integration was long overdue,” says Dr Swati Popat Vats, President of ECA and APER. “The draft National Education Policy (DNEP), 2019, suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year-olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards. Hence, launching APER is a natural progression. Our goal is to do the same kind of work we did in our early years, but now, Grades 1-4, smoothen the transition from early years to primary school years.”
Stresses Dr Vats, “APER will ensure that all ECA schools with development goals built on a solid foundation for the early years get a platform to let their children continue further advocacy for ‘stress-free childhood years’ and continue the same at the primary level.”
Office members of APER include such well-known educationists as Farzana Dohadwalla, Vice-President; Kusum Kanwar, Secretary; Rekha Shahani, Diplomatic Secretary; Sangeeta Puri, Joint Secretary and Binaifer Chhoga, Executive Member. APER’s launch was through a panel discussion, ‘Does everything really change overnight for a pre-schooler once s/he enters Grade 1?”
Dr Reeta Sonawat, Executive Director, Dr Kamini Rege, Treasurer, and Asha Verma, Secretary, of the Early Childhood Association joined the panel, where Dr Vats was moderator.
“There’s a vast difference between the two curriculums. Children at the pre-primary stage are told to play and explore and suddenly everything changes once they step into primary education. They’re told to study more than they play. One suggestion to better this transition is to let pre-primary teachers teach the children for at least a week at the start of their primary education. Also, the ground reality is that teachers of pre-primary and secondary levels don’t work collaboratively,” shared Usha Varma, Secretary, APER.
Dr Sonawat elaborated, “The world talks of the early years! APER goes with the thought that our primary education won’t descend on that system; instead, we’ll ascend our system from pre-primary to primary education.”
“This period of 3-8 years in the DNEP translates into 3 of early years plus 2 of primary education years. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) shows that children can’t read or write properly according to their age. Early child segment is ignored and, therefore, filled with less-qualified, low-cost teachers. If audit is done periodically, the quality of staff will improve,” said Dohadwalla.
The panel agreed that the IB system was superior in that the accreditation of primary-level children was done by checking on their early years. Also, in the IB boards, pre-primary and primary teachers have collaborative meetings to better the children’s transition. Dr Vats mentioned such topics as ‘License to Teachers to Teach’ and ‘Bringing together all stakeholders — Parents, Educators, Psychologists and so on’, for betterment of the system.