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  • Writer's pictureSushmita Roy

Here's How We are Solving the Five Most Pressing Issues in India's Preschool System

Updated: Sep 8

Preschool education in India faces several challenges that impact its quality and accessibility. Embarking on a mission to transform India's preschool system, we have identified to tackle the five most pressing challenges head-on:

One of the primary challenges is the limited access to preschool education, especially in rural and economically disadvantaged areas. According to the National Sample Survey 75th Round report, approximately 37 million children do not avail of any early education service.

Our solution: India boasts the world's largest free and publicly run daycare centers, visited by over 67 million children and 15 million pregnant and lactating mothers. In rural or economically disadvantaged areas, where access is most limited, more than 1 in 3 school-going children under five attend these daycare centres called Anganwadis. Nationwide, parents and caregivers view Anganwadis as "porridge" or nutrition centres. We are working with the state and central government to transform these Anganwadis into learning centres by introducing early childhood programs that rely on play-based learning over traditional rote learning methods. Our program provides Anganwadi workers with adequate tools, resources, and content to ensure that children attending Anganwadis learn foundational numeracy and literacy skills.

There is a significant disparity in the quality of preschool education in India. While some urban areas have well-established and adequately resourced preschools, many rural and low-income areas need help to provide quality education.

Solution: Now that we have solved the inaccessibility issue by focusing on upgrading Anganwadis, the next step is to ensure that the quality is maintained and at a level that does not widen the existing gap between private preschools and Anganwadis. At Rocket Learning, we have worked with experienced teachers, global pedagogy experts, and world-renowned researchers who helped us design a developmentally appropriate curriculum focusing on holistic child development, including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical aspects.

Our educational content differs from the traditional rote learning methods in under-resourced neighborhoods. We send our content in audio-visual formats, localized languages, and using characters and songs that our children imminently recognize. We reach these conclusions by conducting frequent and on-of-kind user and A/B testing workshops in communities nationwide.

The need for more trained and qualified preschool teachers is a significant challenge. Many preschool teachers need proper training, which affects their ability to provide a stimulating and nurturing learning environment.

Solution: Since launching our teacher model a year ago, we have engaged and trained over 100,000 Anganwadi workers to become skilled educators by conducting frequent workshops and sending resources to their smartphones daily. This year, we have partnered with the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development to create teacher learning materials for all Anganwadi workers in the nation as part of their recent initiative "Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi

Low parental awareness about the importance of preschool education can impact enrollment rates. Many parents in rural areas and socio-economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods need to become more familiar with the benefits of early childhood education, leading to low demand and investment in preschools. Additionally, parental involvement in children's learning at home is limited due to various socioeconomic factors.

Solution: At Rocket Learning, we aim to provide equal, inclusive early childhood education access to all children in India by giving parents and daycare workers the awareness, information, and motivation they need to support children's dreams and futures. Learning begins at home, where children under six spend most of their time. We conduct behavioural change workshops to engage parents and communicate the benefits of starting early learning. We have also designed our educational content to speak to parents with limited or no education. By giving them the confidence and agency to become their children's first educators, we ensure that children become more efficient learners. We have worked with over 1.5 million parents and children in less than three years.

Preschools' monitoring and evaluation mechanisms must be improved. There need to be standardized assessment tools and comprehensive monitoring systems to measure the quality and effectiveness of preschool education. The current reporting inaccuracy hinders data-driven decision-making and the identification of areas requiring improvement.

Solution: Our state-of-the-art artificial learning and machine learning algorithms track, analyze, and report on students' responses, engagement, and learning outcomes in the WhatsApp groups where we send our content. We are also engaged in several Randomized Control Trials (RCTs), baseline and end-line surveys, and lab schools to evaluate developmental outcomes. We maintain real-time dashboards and conduct A/B testing, user phone surveys, period field observations, and class observations to inform our product strategy. These tools combined make our monitoring and evaluation strategy unique and one of the most extensive in India for early childhood education.

We have made significant strides in addressing the critical issues plaguing India's preschool system through relentless dedication and innovative approaches. Our transformational initiatives have unlocked opportunities for children in underprivileged areas, providing them with access to quality education. We have fostered a nurturing learning environment by empowering Anganwadi workers with the necessary tools and training. Moreover, our engagement with parents has ignited a collective understanding of the importance of early childhood education. With data-driven monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, we continuously refine our strategies, ensuring effective outcomes. Together, let us embrace a future where every child in India has an equal chance to thrive through holistic and transformative preschool education.

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