The idea of mapping the early childhood education (ECE) curriculum developed by us at Gyan Prakash Foundation (GPF) to the state and the national frameworks originated as a part of the “Parents as Early Teachers” (PaET) project. The purpose of mapping the concepts/skills of the state Aakar curriculum and the NCERT Pre-school curriculum is:
- To see the overall alignment between the three curricula,
- To compare the main skills that children are expected to achieve in the three years of preschool in order to be school-ready to enter Class I,
- To provide an easy reference tool where the common overlaps between the three curricula are captured, and
- To provide an easy reference tool where the digital learning content developed to support the GPF ECE curriculum is mapped against the national and state level frameworks.
Background to NCERT Pre-School Curriculum and Aakar Curriculum
In 2013, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, passed the resolution around National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy. The policy conforms to the vision of holistic and integrated development of children below the age of 6 years, with the focus on care and early learning to support children’s all-round development. The policy aims to regularize and enhance the quality of the various non-formal preschool and ECCE settings in the country to implement activities for all-round development, care and school readiness of children. Under the policy, an ECE curriculum should include play and activity, learning by doing in a child-friendly, child-centric disabled-friendly manner, to promote child’s self-expression, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
The National ECCE Policy has been used as a guiding document for development of other ECCE curriculum documents published at the national and state levels since then. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) published a preschool curriculum in 2019 (NCERT Pre-School Curriculum), which has been designed for three years of preschool before Grade 1, i.e. age group 3 - 6 years. The document highlights goals, key concepts/skills, pedagogical processes and early learning outcomes for a three year preschool program. It also suggests ways of planning a preschool program, classroom organization and management, assessment and building partnership with parents and community.
‘Aakar’ is a state level preschool curriculum developed by the Maharashtra SCERT in consultation with UNICEF and released in 2019. With more research suggesting the importance of ECE and the renewed focus on strengthening non-formal pre-school education in Anganwadis as recommended by the National ECCE Policy Framework, Project Aakar was conceptualized as an initiative by Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). Aakar syllabus includes areas like physical and motor development, language, environment and science experience, craft, pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-math skills for children in the age group of 3 - 6 years.
The NCERT Pre-school curriculum is an overall framework which addresses the curriculum in terms of concepts/skills that children need to achieve at each stage, the ideas for a teacher to achieve those skills and the learning outcomes. However, the Aakar syllabus is a manual for Anganwadi workers to implement the curriculum in the centers. It therefore details out every activity a teacher needs to conduct to achieve the skills.
Who can use the Mapping Document
This mapping document can be used by
- Content creators who wish to design activities for preschool aged children
- Teachers/program coordinators of preschool programs, to assess if their curriculum is aligned to the state and the national framework
- Parents to understand the skills required for overall development of their child and to prepare them for entry into formal school.