HERE IS A REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE BILLION DOLLAR CHILDCARE INDUSTRY IN INDIA - WHY PARENTS WANT CHILDCARE, THE LACK OF REGULATION OF PROVIDERS, AND HOW STRUCTURING THE CHILD'S DAY INTO PROGRAMMMED ACTIVITIES IS NOT NECESSARILY IN THE CHILD'S BEST INTERESTS.
Bangalore, May 2012 - Meditation, motor skills, ethics, social skills, self-esteem, self-reliance, stage exposure, live shows. Good habits, reasoning skills, general knowledge, reading, writing and counting.
Not surprisingly, if you’re just wondering why these random words are popular in the commercial world. Well, each one has a value and is termed as ‘brain developers’ for the kids, only to be a part of the curriculum list in some of the pre-schools, kindergartens and Montessori schools.
Devi Prasad, not even two-years-old, was put into pre-school, not because his parents wanted ‘brain development’ for their children, but because they hardly had time to take care of him in their busy structured life. His childhood is taken care of at a home turned school run by a couple, who handle little students without any pre-requisite to become a qualified pre-school teacher. Prasad, plays with other kids in the school, lifts a big balloon typed ball, which otherwise is termed physical development and is part of his gym activities at the school, handles electronic devices to play music, listen to rhymes and dance, only to become a gadget guru at a later stage.
Well, some of the activities in the list might just be the day-to-day activity of the child in the normal course, but it gets structured, timed and instructional, to suit the needs of this unregulated industry of early childhood care.
Early childhood is the first six years of life, which is considered to be the most crucial period for inculcating learning and development. During this period, the kids absorb everything they are exposed to, using all their senses. Pre-schools essentially reach out to the child from the age of 10 months, keeping in mind, his earlier growth and also his developmental needs.
According to 2011 census, India has 158.7 million children in the 0-6 year age group. Of the 158.7 million children in the below-six-years category, about 75.7 million children (48 per cent) are reported to be covered under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. A significant number is also covered by the private sector, for which there is no data available.
The pre-schools we saw a decade ago that targeted the upper middle class which tended to be academically focused, today are growing beyond the ‘class’ divide and cater to every section of the society, mostly in urban areas. Some of the chain-schools like Kidzee, admit kids as young as 9-10 months of age and some go with the westernised curriculum which may not necessarily suit the Indian segment. But, the ones catering to the rural kids and differently-abled kids are a cause for worry.
Dr Usha Arbol, a child development consultant and former regional director National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, said, "Today, anybody can start a pre-school without any permission or licensing."
For more, see Ibnlive.in.com