Deputy chief minister and education minister, Manish Sisodia announced on Thursday that Delhi Government will start early childhood care and education (ECCE) centres in Delhi.
When the project is complete, there will be about 3,000 of them, preparing about 2.5 to 3 lakh children for school over three years. In the immediate future, Delhi Government intends to set up 10 “on pilot basis” in some of the poorest areas of the city, said Sisodia, speaking at a conference on ECCE organised by Ambedkar University, Delhi. 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. At six, children who join the public education system, enrolled in Class I in municipal (or Sarvodaya) schools. 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.” For now, 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. Anganwadis 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.”