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The Right of Tribal Children to Early Childcare and Education

The 'Early childhood care and education' (ECCE) policy of the Government in India needs to include the rights of the tribal children, their care and education. 

Ranchi, August, 2012 - A one-day state level discussion on the policy recently organised by National Advocacy Council for Development of Indigenous People (NACDIP) and Samvad was held. Several proposals were passed for amendment in the ECCE policy in this regard.

Speaking on the occasion, Binay Pattanayak, education specialist (Unicef) said, "This is a very crucial forum. The policy when analysed doesn't include the tribal children. Tribal children have a different upbringing from the mainstream society. I feel language is a very important component in childcare. Hence, the home language and school language should be bridged at pre-school level so that the children have a better school readiness."

He said the learning centres should be child-friendly and mother tongue based. Mother tongue helps in the gradual shifting from the preschool to primary level. "In Jharkhand state, we are trying this through the Mother Tongue Based Active Language Learning (M Tall) as we are very much aware that the state is multilingual where 12 languages have been given recognition. So these languages should also be used at the preschool level also," he said.

Talking about other proposals, National Domestic Workers Movement state co-ordinator Father Chetan, said: "The RTE Act doesn't include children in the 0-6 age group but the 6-14 age group. So we have proposed that the 0-6 age group should be included. As far as the anganwadi teachers are concerned, a criterion should be of Montessori education for anganwadi workers who then only can take care of the children."

He added, "Many anganwadis are in the remote areas. And these areas have different geographic terrain which is also one of the reasons for dropout children who are not able to avail the facilities."

Apart from these there were some more recommendations like the village panchayats (justice councils) should be given power to monitor the micro planning under the ECCE policy. All policies related to tribals and the pre-schools situated in tribal areas should come under tribal minister. Studies in the preschools should be in playful manner.

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