Monday, November 13, 2006


Hindustan Times - India

India Needs to Focus More on Preschool Kids

India needs to focus more on care and education of preschool children along with nutritional needs for their proper growth, a senior UNESCO official stated here Wednesday.

"Unless there is sufficient investment in early childhood, the less would be the returns (when the child becomes a working adult)," said Minja Yang, director and UNESCO representative in India, at a function to release the annual "Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2007" report.

The report takes a critical look at the fact that despite well-documented benefits for child development and well being, early childhood "area remains the forgotten link in the education chain in many regions, and that half the world's countries have no early childhood care and education policy for children under age three".

Early childhood care and education are the first among six "Education for All" goals the world is committed to achieving by 2015.

While the study commends India for contributing significantly to the marked acceleration in primary school enrolments - for both boys and girls - in the South Asian region, it also notes the quality education for the most part suffers due to lack of trained teachers and large scale absentism both of children and teachers and woeful infrastructure.

"I would like to impress on the partners (governments and NGOs) to invest in creating enabling community centres and in rural areas where mothers can get together through different programmes," said Yang.

She admitted the sheer magnitude of the task makes it difficult for the Indian government to take it on its own.

At the same time, the official was critical, stating, "less than four percent of the budget allocation for education in a country like India is sadly inadequate".

The fact that 25 million babies are born every year in India despite efforts to promote family planning is a major factor for the neutral growth in the government's efforts to raise level of literacy and ensure education for all at the primary and secondary level in the country.

Comment: It's interesting how the West is screaming for babies and the East has so many.

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