Just as tall buildings and towers need strong support to reach the sky, every child needs a solid foundation in the early years to lead a successful life. These words by Bill Gates, “The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out” emphasize enough on the importance of learning in the early years. Conversely, various research studies show disheartening statistics of around 5 crore children in elementary school, lagging behind the minimum level of learning, unable to read and comprehend simple text and do simple operations in math in our country. However, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has given us a glimmer of hope by bringing the early childhood education on its priority agenda.
The NEP 2020 has declared achievement of the foundational literacy and numeracy as an urgentNational Mission. The policy aims to attain universal foundational literacy and numeracy by the year 2025 for which a ‘National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy’ has been set up under Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). The need to focus on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is spelt out in existing low learning levels, high and ever-increasing drop-out rates, and inadequate language and mathematical skills in primary school children across India.
The provisions under NEP 2020 for foundational literacy and numeracy will help in narrowing this huge learning gap and build the much-needed robust foundation for our young generation. Here are a few key highlights of foundational literacy and numeracy under the NEP 2020.
- The policy aims to achieve Universal Foundational Literacy and Numeracy through access to high quality Early Childhood and Care Education (ECCE).
- It envisions making all children competent to read and write meaningfully before they enter class 3.
- The goal is to develop basic numeracy competencies in all children till class 2.
- It envisages a 3 months play-based preparatory class called Balvaatika for all children of age 5, before they enter class 1.
- The focus has to shift from rote memorization to developing the ability of ‘how to learn’.
- It is essential to provide such learning opportunities to children so that they are able to integrate their classroom learning with their real life experiences.
- Schools have to ensure a friendly and congenial environment that promotes joyful learning.
- Curriculum should focus on holistic development of children along with building 21st centuries skills.
Along with the goals for developing literacy and numeracy skills, the NEP 2020 envisages good health and nutrition for all children through regular health-check-ups and health cards, efforts to boost mental and physical health, introducing energising breakfast with the mid-day meal. The NEP 2020 is very promising and hopefully it will bring about the much needed change in the early education space in India.
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