The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) has laid importance on the universalisation of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) with a 2030 target to ensure that all students entering Grade 1 are school ready. The pedagogical and curricular structure of school education has been changed to reflect the importance. In the ages of 3 to 6 years, pre-schools will provide basic education to children, to prepare them for formal education from Grade 1 onwards.
The policy document gives importance to play based, activity based and inquiry based curriculum. It also advocates the overall aim of ‘ECCE to focus on attaining optimal outcomes in the domains of: physical and motor development, cognitive development, socio-emotional-ethical development, cultural/artistic development, and the development of communication and early language, literacy, and numeracy’. The emphasis on developmentally appropriate requirements of this age group builds on ECCE policy 2013.
NCERT has been tasked with the creation of a “National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education” (NCPF ECCE) for children up to the age of 8. Preparatory Classes have been discussed as bridge programs between anganwadis and primary schools. The policy plans training & certificate programmes from ECCE of all anganwadi and primary school workers mainly through digital means. All these are directed at universal access to early childhood education.
The National Education Policy 2020 has acknowledged the need for strong investments in ECCE but so far there is no mention of the role private players can fulfil in meeting its goal for 2030. The policy also does not discuss regulation of private pre-schools. A roadmap for its implementation is lacking with no discussions on budget allotments and its inclusion in the Right to Education.
Based on the declared outcomes and approaches to meeting them, one would expect that the framework for ECCE as created by the NCERT will be along the lines of modern international curriculum and any pre-school meeting international best practices will also meet the requirements of the framework.
The entire NEP 2020 policy document can be downloaded here.