Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Invent solutions

There is no second opinion that our children need holistic development in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Strong and effective promotion of life skills is the need of the hour to promote mental, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. It will be the foundation for the superstructure of developmental skills like early literacy, numeracy, and digital skills. The demand of the fast-changing world flags the need for self-control, critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication. To be the agents of change, independent learning, making informed decisions, and exercising rights to lead a healthy and productive life are the hallmarks of holistically compatible children. The early years – 3 to 9 – are confirmed to be the most significant period of life where 85% to 90% of a child’s brain development takes place. This is the inflection point and catching the child early sets a perfect roadmap for his/her holistic success and development in the latter years of his/her life. In fact the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat Mission rolled out by the government focuses on this age group to change the face of elementary education in India. The mission of this flagship programme is to create an enabling environment to ensure the universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing, and numeracy at the end of grade three. The mission explicitly introduces transformational shifts in pedagogy in early education and focuses on three developmental goals like health and well-being, effective communication, and involved learning. The mission has flagged performance indicators in three years of ECCE and three years of the foundational stage after attaining age three by a child. The shift towards competency-based learning in the process of pedagogy is seen as a game-changer at the early education level. To achieve the three developmental goals competencies have been identified. These competencies have been codified and mapped with the learning outcomes in each level at the foundational level. The NIPUN flagship programme suggests shifting from textbook pedagogy to experiential learning. The teachers’ capacity will be enhanced to use toy-based styles of teaching-learning; storytelling and ICT integrated learning inside the classroom. The programme will focus on developmental goals. It will ensure that children maintain good health and wellbeing. This goal will have its area of influence around the physical, socio-emotional, and psychological health and well-being of children. It will also be responsible to help the children to become effective communicators. It is highly challenging as of now because statistics available about the status of literacy and language skills are not encouraging and there is a national emergency to control the literary crises. Available data after recent surveys reads that 25% of school-going children in the four to eight age groups do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills. Thus, there is a considerable learning deficit at a very early stage. As per ASER, NAS and other international survey studies, 4% of children below the age of six can recognize at least letters. 6% can make additions. 8% of children in Class II can read a text of classes below them. 8% of students in Class III can read texts meant for students two levels below them. 33% of children in class 3 are not able to read with comprehension. 44% of children in class 3 cannot use basic math to solve daily problems. At the same time children must be involved learners and connect with their immediate environment. The children are born and enchanted by the world – its colours, its shapes, its sounds, its sizes, and its forms. The ability to connect with others and to share feelings with them lays a special basis for learning. Children explore patterns, shapes, and other mathematical dimensions in their immediate world. This helps the children to improve on their cognitive domain which leads to the development of their five senses and encouragement of 3Es, i.e., Exploration, Experimentation, and Equity, based on children’s prior knowledge and immediate context. The point is that the one-size-fits-all style of pedagogy, instruction, and assessment prevalent today has reached the twilight years. The 21st-century school system must invent solutions to the emerging weaknesses, and explore initiatives to work on strengths and opportunities.