Mumbai: After a journey spanning 8 years, with 15 publications, over 692 workshops and touching over 7 lac teachers, the Early Childhood Association (ECA) launched its Association for Primary Education and Research (APER).
“This integration was long overdue,” says Dr. Swati Popat Vats, president of ECA and APER. “The draft National Education Policy 2019 (DNEP) suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards. Hence launching APER is a natural progression. Our goal is to do the same kind of work we did for early years but now in primary school, from grades 1 to 4 and smoothen the transition from early years to primary years. APER will ensure that all ECA schools, who have built on the development goals and a solid foundation in the early years will get a platform to let their children continue further advocacy for “stress free childhood years” and continuation of the same in the primary level.”
Office members of APER include well-known educationists such as Farzana Dohadwalla (Vice President), Kusum Kanwar (Secretary), Rekha Shahani (Diplomatic Secretary), Sangeeta Puri (Joint Secretary) and Binaifer Chhoga (Executive Member). The launch of APER was via a panel discussion on “does everything really change overnight for a pre-schooler once she/he enters Grade 1?”
Dr Reeta Sonawat (Executive Director), Dr Kamini Rege (Treasurer) and Asha Verma (Secretary) of the Early Childhood Association joined the panel. Dr Swati Popat Vats moderated the same.
“There is a vast difference between the two curricula. Children in pre-primary are told to play and explore and suddenly everything changes once they step in primary education. They are told to study more than play. One suggestion to better the transition is to let the pre-primary teacher teach the children for at least a week at the start of their primary education. Also, the ground reality is that teachers of pre-primary, and secondary do not work collaboratively,” shared Ms. Usha Varma, Secretary, APER, emphatically.
Dr Reeta Sonawat of the ECA elaborated,” the world talks the early years! APER goes with the thought that our primary education won’t descend their system instead we will ascend our system from pre-primary to primary education. “
“This period of 3-8 years in the DNEP translates into 3 of early years + 2 of primary education years. The annual status of education report shows that children cannot read or write properly; commensurate to their age. Early child segment is ignored and therefore filled with less qualified, low cost teachers. If audit is done periodically, the quality of staff will enhance,” opined Farzana Dohadwalla, Vice President of APER.
The panel agreed that the IB system is superior, in that the accreditation of primary children is done by checking the early years. Also, in the IB boards, the pre-primary and primary teachers have collaborative meetings to better the transition of children. The President Swati Popat Vats mooted topics such as ‘license to teachers to teach’ and bringing together all stakeholders such as parents, educators, psychologist, etc. into betterment of the system.