Early Childhood Care and Education Curricular Laws and Child Rights perspective
Early Childhood Care and Education Curricular Laws and Child Rights perspective –
Writer – Abhidha Seth
Writer is Early Childhood Care and Education expert and Co-Founder at ‘Preschool for Child Rights™’
This Article is also published in India’s Best Legal Journal “Legal Mitra”
There are Lies, Damn Lies and then Statistics. In the same sense there are Laws, poor drafted laws and then India’s Education Laws. Now, India has geared to make ‘Early childhood Education Curricular Laws’.
Since, 1948, we started having some sort of Education Laws. With an ever changing society, laws also need to be in its footsteps, at least in terms of education laws. More opportunities are being created in modern sectors, so education is changing fast, skill based education, unconventional education, and alternate form of education is also very much relevant. Because of all these changes, development works and scientific research, Early Childhood Care and Education is also changing rapidly.
It is very well accepted that the ‘Right to education’, like all human rights, is universal and inalienable. ‘Right to education’ also means ‘Rights within education’ which can be achieved through improving the quality of education. ‘Right to education’ also means ‘Right to Quality Education’ and ‘Right to RIGHT Education’ (RIGHT means correct and relevant). Till now we were focused on ‘bringing the child to school’, this is pretty tough, now we are focusing on ‘bringing the quality in education’, this task is even tougher.
A parent studies a report that ‘too much formal education’ can have ‘profound damage’ on the child. The parent rushes to the preschool and gushes out with the child and takes the child to play in lawn.
One curriculum developer reads during childhood it should be ‘Learning through Play’, like lot many people the developer puts emphasis on the word play and the typical two hour preschool schedule takes shape something like this – 9 AM, Child arrives, 9 to 9.30 AM, Outdoor Play, 9.30 AM to 10 AM is Free Play, 10 AM to 10.30 AM is Snacks Break, 10.30 AM to 11 AM is Dance and Rhyme.
One educator reads “child is a natural knowledge creator and a creative explorer”, the curriculum is devised in such a manner – the child to be left with some plastic toys, a tub of water, some balls and teacher shall observe. Now, the child needs to create the word ‘Float’ and ‘sink’, but from where and how? So, each child will create its own numbers, alphabets, words etc.
One curriculum developer reads “Montessori dedicated her entire life to the child’s education” and concludes that ‘Montessori’ is the all-in-all regarding curriculum, so the phrase is coined ‘Montessori Curriculum’. However, the education is sum-total of entire world’s knowledgeand not only ‘Montessori’.
The curriculum developer reads “3 R’s is not the Goal”, so the child enters class 1 without having knowledge of rote counting of 1 to 10 even!
One report stated that ‘Tests are not good’, that’s proper, so preschools will not have tests. But that research never meant that ‘child friendly assessment’ should not be done. Tests and assessment are not interchangeable words, which are basically understood.
What is going wrong is that various things are taken too literally. Research and findings are not understood from the perspective they were done with and so applied in a very inappropriate manner. Parents, Educators, Teachers etc are not trained and geared for ‘Quality in Education’. It is not only about ‘knowing right things to do’; while building curricular laws the scope is too much beyond it.
Developing curricular laws requires too much care, proverbially put ‘handle with kids gloves’. It needs to be understood that the Curricular Laws has to be ever changing, so that it has inbuilt scope of doing corrections, changes, doing research, collecting evidence, applying new things and also making recommendations. Terminologies are to be used and defined properly. Various boards and law drafters are using term ‘curriculum’ quite liberally, where actually they intend using ‘syllabus’ or ‘curricular framework’ and NOT ‘Curriculum’. Simple terms like ‘List of Toys’, ‘Compulsory List of Toys’, ‘Requisite List of Toys’, ‘Minimum List of Toys’, all such phrases, will have different meaning with the stakeholders of such laws. While developing curricular laws, law drafters need to mention that the law is covering things to set the minimum standards, however, to further improve the quality the schools shall always go beyond the minimum standards.
The Approach to Solution:
Quality of education means the content of the curriculum, the art, skills, dialogue and behaviour of teaching and the quality of the learning environment. We need learning environment that are responsive to the need of the child.
The best approach of developing such Curricular Laws is to build environment that upholds ‘Rights of the Child’. Formula would be to see ‘what is in the best interest of the child’.
Child rights in preschool settings holds much importance for the reason that the child is not in a position to claim their rights. Here, in preschool ‘child rights’ will mean a duty unto others – other stakeholders like, teachers, parents, administrators, society and of course government.
Respecting the rights of the child will in no way affect or diminish the rights of the teacher. But, the teachers will require support, in terms of relevant curriculum, assessment inclusive with the curriculum, child-centric environment and infrastructure.
The moment we will have preschools which will have ‘respect for the child’, respect for the teacher, and respect for the administrators will be automatically enhanced. Preschool will be started to be seen as ‘Social Development Centers’.
Teacher and administrators is also required to abstain from rights violations, in which a proper, quality based and standardized curriculum comes as a great aid. A teacher will show negative emotion to the child, when the child would cry inconsolably or would behave aggressively. A child busy in enjoyable learning activities and explorations, never shows such emotions, thus in a way stops teachers from rights violations. This is like creating conducive learning environment by having respect for child rights and respect for the child’s choices and opinions.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child while broadening the concept of the ‘Rights of the Child’ included “development of the child to the maximum extent possible”, as one of its principles, which requires a good curriculum (and this requires good curricular laws).
Another very important stakeholder of the ‘Rights of the Child approach’ is parents. While advocating ‘Rights of the Child’ approach, we need to have a participatory approach. It will require sensitization and training of parents, just like teachers. Parents will also require having ‘rule book’, which they would be expected to follow so as to meet their obligation to respect the rights of the child. Parents need to be trained over parenting skills so that they can contribute to their child’s development.
Narrowing down to “Right to education for child”, we see it comes from ‘Rights of Child’. ‘Rights of child’ can be paraphrased as ‘Rights of Child in Child’s World’, and ‘School’ holds a large portion of ‘Child’s World’. Further, what makes the school – verily it is the curriculum. Any fault or error in developing curricular laws will have far more effect than it might immediately seem.
You will find that the entire discussion which we had here was ‘Gender Neutral’, one more rights of the child is to make the education ‘Gender Neutral’, it is possible. You will also find that throughout it is ‘child’ and not ‘children’, to reflect ‘each child is unique, each child is important and also each child is different’, one more rights of the child is to ‘give importance to the uniqueness of each child’, it is possible.
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