Children entering primary school without readiness: Study

Guwahati: Most children enter primary school at age five with little readiness for it, leading to low learning levels, according to a new report by UNICEF and three other institutions.

The study, jointly conducted in Assam, Rajasthan and Telangana by UNICEF, Centre for Early Childhood Education (CECED) and the ASER Centre, found that a majority of four-year-olds were attending pre-school, either through government-run Anganwadi Centres or private pre-schools.

However, they did not necessarily participate in pre-school and primary school at the correct ages, and in the order that policies prescribe, it said.

“Therefore, there are children below the age of six in primary school and children above age six in pre-school in some states,” the report said.

The five-year longitudinal research study on ‘Indian Early Childhood Education Impact’, was conducted on 14,000 children from ages four to eight in rural areas of the three states.

A key concern emerging is that most children entered primary school at age five with school readiness levels, which were far below expectations, according to the study.

“They were, thus, unequipped to meet the demands of the curriculum and had low learning levels.”

The report highlights that even one year of participation in a quality early childhood development programme leads to higher school readiness levels, which in turn lead to better learning outcomes in the early primary grades.

Given the impact of pre-school on primary education, the study recommended inclusion of pre-primary education as an integral part of the Right to Education Act.

The report also batted for a regulatory system to be instituted for early childhood education, to ensure quality standards are adhered to across all providers, including in the private sector.