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For kids, early years are vital to a brighter future

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Parents across the world want their children to be happy and successful; most know that a good education is the passport to upward mobility and offer their children the best they can.

But what if many of us need to rethink our basic assumptions? What if play-based activities that build memory, reasoning and problem-solving abilities are far more important in the early years than content knowledge? What if “success” depends not on how soon a child becomes part of the formal school system but on whether his/her “early years” or pre-school stage are spent acquiring foundational skills necessary both in school and in life?

Globally, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates that high-quality pre-primary education is the foundation of a child’s journey, that every stage of education that follows relies on it and that equitable pre-primary education is also an effective strategy for promoting economic growth.

But despite the proven and lifelong benefits, more than 175 million children — nearly half of all pre-primary-age children globally — are not enrolled in pre-primary education, says Unicef.

These are critical issues not only for our youngest children but also the country’s future. Early childhood education needs to be a top national priority, as is evident from the 14th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2019), released earlier this week. The report’s focus is on the “early years”, on children between the ages of four and eight.

Facilitated by non-profit Pratham, which started its work 25 years ago with early childhood education in the slums of Mumbai, the report is based on surveys conducted in 26 districts across 24 states. Covering........

© The Asian Age