Centre releases curriculum framework for three to six-year-olds

The early childhood education curriculum is expected to bridge foundational literacy and numeracy gaps which may arise in later school years

Updated - May 10, 2024 09:17 am IST

Published - April 19, 2024 09:06 pm IST - New Delhi:

Aadharshila (translated as foundation stone) is a detailed 48-week curriculum meant for learning in the age-group of three to six-year-olds in anganwadis. File.

Aadharshila (translated as foundation stone) is a detailed 48-week curriculum meant for learning in the age-group of three to six-year-olds in anganwadis. File. | Photo Credit: R. V. MOORTHY

For the first time ever, the Central government has released curriculum advisable to be taught to children aged three to six-years-old, thus giving an impetus to pre-school learning in 14 lakh anganwadis across the country.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has released the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education 2024 titled ‘Aadharshila,’ on the lines of the National Education Policy 2020 and the National Curriculum Framework. 

Aadharshila (translated as foundation stone) is a detailed 48-week curriculum meant for learning in the age-group of three to six-year-olds in anganwadis. 

There are 14 lakh anganwadis in India which serve as nodal points in villages for health and nutrition needs of pregnant mothers and children. The MWCD, along with the Ministry of Education, has envisioned that these anganwadis should double up as pre-schools which impart basic learning to children, thus strengthening their foundational literacy and numeracy concepts. 

“Concern in the policy is that children are going up school ladder without learning to read and write [which may lead them to lack in achieving age-appropriate learning levels like math and language skills],” said Professor Venita Kaul, former NCERT official and member of the internal committee that designed the curriculum. 

Prof. Kaul said longitudinal research which followed 42,000 Indian children up to primary grades for about five years indicated that children who have received early childhood education are expected to do much better in school and are also psychosocially better adapted than peers who did not receive any formal education before six years of age.

The framework document has been finalised by an internal committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of School Education and Literacy, the Ministry of Education, the National Council of Educational Research & Training, the Institute of Home Economics, Delhi University and civil society organisations.

Play calendar

The curriculum includes a weekly based play calendar with four weeks of initiation that include academic activities which help children transition from home to anganwadi centre by engaging them in fun and free play. The next 36 weeks are spent in exploring, free play, conversation, creation and appreciation, reflection that involves various activities, including storytelling, singing rhymes, art and craft and so on. Storytelling themes revolve around conflict resolution, taking responsibility, working with and helping others.

Children learn about colours, shapes, numbers, use of senses, body parts, family and friends, listening and responding to instructions, basic counting, imitating and recognising sounds, themes like seasons, festivals, food and so on. 

Last eight weeks are spent in recap and reinforcing learnings of previous weeks with worksheets and observation of kid’s performance. 

Activities and time table are segregated age-wise, with detailed requirement of materials needed, age-appropriate specifications, variation, notes for teacher, targeted curricular goals and competency that children achieve and observing children’s interest. 

Children from age three to six attend anganwadi in what is a mixed crowd. The curriculum targets at least 48 weeks of learning in the duration of three years. 

The curriculum helps in developing listening skill, vocabulary building, boosting imagination, narration, following instructions, creativity, social development, developing self-expression and self-esteem, which will help a child to easily transition into Grade 1.

Base for States

 The national framework for three to six years will serve as a base for States to develop their own culturally appropriate curriculums seen as a solution to tackle later school challenges of children. 

“If States didn’t have a curriculum in hand, they would treat pre-school learning as a downward extension of primary education which includes simply reading and writing. But now this framework provides alternatives and very specific guidance on activities as well as how they have to be framed and organised in four hours of the day,” Prof. Kaul explains. 

“Training of anganwadi workers towards providing early childhood education started under ‘Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi,’ scheme by the MWCD in May last year, and this curriculum document will now become a part of the ongoing trainings which help anganwadi workers become pre-school instructors,” said Sukhna Sawhney, Lead, Early Childhood Education with non-profit Rocket Learning, and a member of the working group that framed the document.

So far, 6,758 anganwadi workers who are State-level master trainers across 32 States in 329 districts have been trained under the ‘Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi’ programme. 

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