ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in West Bengal

Literacy and education are vital developmental indicators for a nation. With more than 200 million children, India has the world’s most extensive primary education system. While primary school enrolment has increased significantly, learning levels remain low. To strengthen foundational literacy and numeracy, the West Bengal government launched “Shishu Aloy” a model Integrated Child Development Services centre in 2015. But the shortage of trained anganwadi workers is the major drawback of this programme in rural villages of West Bengal.

 

The future of India is being shaped in the early stage of learning. Early childhood education has become a concern towards universal quality education, especially their crucial roles in a child’s brain development and access to elementary education. Many research studies have found good preschool education and early learning gives children a better future opportunity for higher achievement. It is necessary to provide an enriching environment for children for their growth and learning. This neces­sitates the provision of suitable facilities for children outside of their homes in the form of preschool education (Murlidharan and Kaul 1999). Researchers have found that children who spent time in preschool attained significantly higher scores in foundational reading and early numerical skills than those who attend local schools (Laosa and Ainsworth 2007).

Building adequate literacy and numeracy skills at the foundational age bet­ween three and seven years is very crucial because over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs at the age of six. The ability to read and write and perform basic numerical operations at the foundation is a pre­requisite for ­future schooling and lifelong learning. These skills empower the children to think critically and creatively and ultimately support the nation towards progress (NEP 2020). Foundational literacy is the ability to understand and identify letters, read familiar words, and create a variety of forms of communication. Literacy helps students to read, write and speak fluently. Foundational numeracy is the ability to understand and identify numbers, discriminate between numbers, and perform basic mathematical calculation (addition or subtraction). (GOI 2020)

Integrated Child Development Servi­ces (ICDS) are one of the most prominent programmes of the Government of ­India. The service is implemented through a vast network of anganwadis. The term “anganwadi” means angan or “courtyard.” The idea has developed with an aim of an excellent early childhood care centre that could be run with low costs, even if it is located in an angan (National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development 2006). Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is presently not available across the country; it has especially not reached to the children belonging to socio-economically disadvantaged backgro­unds. A big push and substantial investment are required to ensure universal provisioning of quality early childhood development across the country in a phased manner.

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Updated On : 20th Apr, 2021

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