As per reports, around 50% of children in India are not able to read fluently with comprehension or perform basic arithmetic by the end of their primary education. In an early childhood education setting, literacy and numeracy are crucial for a child’s learning and general development. It increases a child’s productivity level and his contribution to the national economy. This concerns the foundational development of children of the country. The issue was addressed by the National education Policy, 2020 that advanced a national mission- NIPUN Bharat Programme for an articulated attainment of a affirm foundational literacy for all children by the end of standard 3rd. The policy put forward various reforms in Early Childhood care and Education, Secondary education as well as higher education which will cater the needs of the 21st century and India’s footsteps towards the Industrial Revolution 4.0. The five pillars of foundational literacy according to NEP are as follows:
The policy aims to bring India into an all round literacy domain and promotes its goals towards becoming a global knowledge superpower, which can be ensured by making primary, secondary and higher education most holistic, flexible, and multidisciplinary. This will also help to recognize the specialities and individual qualities of each and every student.
NIPUN Bharat Programme
The National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) programme was initiated by the Centre in 2021 to improve the foundational education of 5 Crore students who are enrolled in government primary schools. NIPUN Bharat, despite having certain limitations attach to it, has begun to gradually improve the foundational learning of children in Grades 1-3, as observed in many states. The programme aims to bring a comprehensive learning and conducive environment for children in the concerned age group to attain the universal acquisition of foundational literacy. It will also ensure the capacity building teachers as teachers are said to be the pillars of foundation for education. It will ensure the development of all necessary resources and learning materials that would include Activity Based Learning (ABL) and digitalized learning for achieving qualitative learning outcomes.
The NIPUN Bharat programme will be implemented by the Department of School Education and literacy.
Problems Related to Foundational Literacy in India
Anganwadi facilities for children aged three to six, place a lot of emphasis on nutrition, immunisation, and health, and only a tiny percentage of centres offer pre-school instruction on a consistent basis. A well-planned, high-quality educational service block for children for a period of three to eight years is still a long way off in this situation.
The truth is that in India, 68% of children between the ages of three and six do not have access to educational services. The majority of kids learn to read for the first time in Grade 1 even though their homes are often not very literate. 35 percent of kids navigate challenging linguistic differences between home and school for multiple years of elementary school.
In light of this, rolling back a curriculum that aids in the learning of third-grade students is equivalent to throwing away two birds with one stone (the aim of a unified, effective educational system for children aged three to eight).
We should be giving children in Grades 1 to 5, extra support so that they have ample time to lay strong foundations for their language and numeracy development. The NCF has only advocated for the adoption of suitable pedagogical procedures for students between the ages of three and eight, such as an emphasis on activity based learning, play-based learning, a flexible learning schedule, outdoor learning and similar things.
By the end of Grade 2, the foundational stage outlined in the NEP and NCF is not intended to target the development of the whole set of reading and numeracy abilities, attitudes, and knowledge necessary for all subsequent academic learning. In fact, the majority of research shows that these understandings evolve gradually during the first four or five years of schooling, particularly in Indian contexts.
The four effective methods to raise reading and numeracy levels are as follows:
- Providing teachers with top-notch, cutting-edge training and giving them precise direction for more effective, detailed instruction promote autonomy in teaching.
- Early education and learning intervention that is effective.
- Provide support or financial assistance for reading and numeracy instruction at the secondary education level.
- Considering early-life investments and concentrating on what actually works
Children who are proficient in reading and mathematical reasoning have better occupational opportunities than others. They are in excellent emotional and physical condition and perform well.
Lack of these abilities can cause children to grow up to be health-risky adults or alcoholics and drug addicts. Additionally, it ruins their personality. While having these skills has a positive impact in reverse.