National Campaign for ECCE Right (NCER)
Securing Transition of Children from Home Environment to School Environment
The Constitutional Mandate:
“State shall endeavour to provide Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for all children until they complete the age of six years”. Article 45, Constitution of India. (Inserted by 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002.)
Few words about the Campaign:
The National Campaign for ECCE1 Right is a civil society endeavour in India to secure Rights of Young Children below six years of age to have access to pre-primary education and childcare services as envisaged in Article 45 of Constitution of India. ECCE especially Pre-primary Education enables children to make a successful transition from Home Environment to School Environment. It is about readiness2 of children as it prepares them to attend primary education after 6-years. The campaign believes that unless the young children are physically and psychologically ready through a successful transition3, children’s readiness to enjoy Fundamental Right to Education of children (Article 21-A of Constitution of India) cannot be realised. Thus the campaign believes that giving statutory back up to the provision of ECCE is an enabling condition to secure access to primary education.
The campaign emerges in the premises of the Eighty-Sixth Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002, which affords ECCE the status of a directive principle in Article 45 of Constitution of India. ECCE deals with the perennial root cause of failure of primary education in India as it has enough potential to prepare the children to attend primary education in the subsequent stages. In view of the significant role of ECCE in realising the rights of children, there is a need to provide statutory back up to the provision of ECCE in India so that it can be realized in a right-based legal framework, which is absent for a very long time on the governance agenda. With this goal, CLAP4 along with a number of Civil Society Organisations in India engaged in an advocacy initiative for an appropriate legal framework so that ECCE as a Right, is realised for children.
A society where children demonstrate highest degree of cognitive, social, emotional & physical development.
To improve upon the Child Development Indicators like Institutional Care, Low Birth Weight, Breastfeeding, Neo-Natal Death, Birth Registration, Infant Mortality Rate, School Enrolment, Dropout, etc.
Children below 6 years of age are given facilities and opportunities for pre-primary education and early childhood care for their physical and psychological development in Right Based Framework.
Campaign Immediate Objectives:
· The Campaign adopts the following strategies for realisation of its goal:
· Undertaking continuous Study and Research.
· Spearheading a Debate and Demand.
· Alliance building and Networking.
· Advocacy and Lobby with: Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Media and UN Bodies.
· Monitoring the role of Institutional Mechanisms.
· Fact-finding and Documentation.
· Social Mobilisation.
· Innovations and Model Experiment.
· The Campaign persues the following principles:
· Considering ECCE as a Right of every Child.
· Focusing on quality and universal coverage of ECCE facilities.
· Emphasising on child’s readiness for pre-primary and primary education.
· Giving prominence to transition from Home Environment to School Environment.
· Pursuing Policy Advocacy through democratic and non-violent means.
· Sharing of responsibility and authority among Campaign partners with mutual trust and respect.
· Giving priority to the views of children and their association.
· The good practices adopted by the stakeholders of the Campaign shall be duly recognised and amplified.
Campaign Target Beneficiaries:
· Entire Child Population of India below 6 years of age. There are 163,819,614 young children (Male – 84,999, 203 and Female 78,820,411) in India as per 2001 Census Report. In addition to that every year approximately 24 millionchildren are added to the figure of child population as new born @ 23.8 BR (2005)5.
· Children from marginalised communities who grow in most disadvantaged situation for which they are far away from school environment and have less access to education, are the primary targets of the campaign.
This campaign does not operate in isolation. It involves a variety of actors who have a stake in promoting ECCE Rights. These actors may include:
· Civil Society Organisations such as NGOs as well as Academic and Research institutions working for ECCE Rights in India.
· Media: both print and electronic.
· Policy Makers including the Parliamentarians, Legislators, Bureaucrats, etc.
· All the national and regional political parties.
· Institutions and System of Governance.
· Children, Parents, Communities, Women Groups etc.
· Education System including ICDS, Primary School, etc.
Role of Stakeholders:
The stakeholders can contribute to this Campaign in the following ways:
· Participating in the dialogue and debate organised by National Secretariat or its partners.
· Showing your solidarity to the Campaign through:
1. Mobilising Public Opinion in favour of the Campaign,
2. Writing letters to the National Secretariat or its member associated in different States and UTs. Log on to www.clapindia.org for more information.
3. Sharing case studies of your area with National Secretariat or its partners.
4. Asking your Members of Parliaments to bring a Bill on Article 45 or support any such Bill during debate in the Parliament.
5. Forming group and writing in media in favour of the demand.
6. Initiating a debate at your own level.
The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act and Beyond:
The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 amended Article 45 of Constitution of India with the provision that “The State shall endeavour to provide Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for all children until they complete the age of six years. However so far there is no exclusive law and/or policy in India that fulfils the above-mentioned constitutional mandate to provide ECCE to all children below the age of six years. Hitherto, efforts of the Government regarding ECCE largely demonstrated through Reproductive Child Health (RCH) programmes, Creche and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), which are not considered as legal right of every child. These are merely schemes, the quality, coverage and entitlement aspect of which are contingent upon the availability of infrastructure and fund. As a result a child or its parent or guardian cannot claim the benefit of such schemes as a matter of right. Hence in the absence of such State liability, there is a need to give statutory back up to Article 45 of Constitution of India to make ECCE, a right of every young child.
Present Framework of ECCE in India:
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) refers to programmes intended to provide care and/or education for children until they complete six years of age, i.e. the period of their entry into primary education.
The objective of ECCE includes:
·Holistic development of the child; i.e. psycho-motor development, cognitive development, language development, social development
· Intellectual development of child.
· Health and Nutrition.
· Increased chances of survival.
· Preparation and Readiness for attending primary schooling.
The present framework of ECCE in India is by and large reflected through ICDS.Anganwadi Centres, delivery point of ICDS services, are designed to cater to the needs of 0-6 year children by providing the services on health, nutrition, immunization and pre-primary education along with the health and nutrition education targeting pregnant women and lactating mothers. Of course the components of RCH, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), State Sponsored Creche Services and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) are potential to provide support to the ECCE. However in the absence of any statutory back up to all these programmes, ECCE has been considered as a vital Need of the child rather than a Right. This is perhaps due to the overall understanding that it is a subject, which mostly requires humanitarian compassion, and not the status of an entitlement. In spite of the general belief system, the significant aspect is that ECCE now has a constitutional mandate (Art: 45) which must be fundamental in the governance of State affairs, relating to children in the country. So far there is no explicit law and/or policy which hold the State and it’s mechanism responsible and accountable for execution of Art. 45.
Investment made in the early childhood substantially reduces the cost incurred at a later part of the life and ensures human development in a right time. Unless quality of life is improved from the beginning of life, human right with dignity shall be hard to realise.
Children under six have been grossly neglected for a long time in Indian planning, and the country is paying a heavy price for this today. It is high time for all the citizen and groups to pay special attention to the nurturing and caring of our young children from 0-6 years as this is the most vital period for laying the foundations to achieve the fullest human potential and development. In this context, statutory back up to Article 45 is a judicious action to ascertain the ECCE Right of every child as legal entitlement. Therefore we appeal all individuals and groups to join this Campaign and play their due role in it.
1. ECCE stands for Early Childhood Care and Education.
2. Readiness presupposes a state where children are healthy, confident, active and attentive; able to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts; enthusiastic and curious about new class activities, follow directions, not being disruptive in class and being sensitive to others.
3. Transition describes the period of time before, during and after a child’s move from one stage of development to the next stage of development into primary school either from home or from an early childhood programme.
4. CLAP stands for Committee for Legal Aid to Poor. It is a registered legal support and advocacy group operating in India for promotion and protection of Human Rights and Rule of Law. Since 1998, it has been undertaking a special project called In Defence of the Child in India for securing the Rights of Children in the framework of Indian Laws in conformity with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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