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Policy Brief- The India Early Childhood Education Impact Study

Policy Brief- The India Early Childhood Education Impact Study

If we could take a snapshot of all four-year-olds in India at, say, 11 a.m. across the entire country, where would we find them and what would they be doing? Are they at home, with parents and siblings, perhaps with other family members? Are they in a government preschool facility known as an Anganwadi Centre? In a private preschool? Or perhaps accompanying their older siblings in a primary school classroom? More importantly, are these early experiences helping to prepare them for what will soon be expected of them in primary school?
The fact is that we don’t know the answer to these questions. The reason this matters is because international research demonstrates conclusively that 90% of brain growthoccurs by age 5. This means that children’s environment and the inputs and support they receive in their early years will have an enormous impact on their future – both in school and beyond. A growing body of evidence points to the fact that there is a learning crisis in India: children are enrolled in school but failing to learn even the basics. This crisis may begin long beforechildren ever enter grade 1. Identifying the support that children need in their early years may help prevent learning problems from occurring and accumulating later on. 

The IECEI Study is a longitudinal study that followed a cohort of 14,000 four-yearolds from age 4 to age 8 in rural areas of three states of India: Assam, Rajasthan and Telangana.

The first of its kind in India for its scale and its longitudinal, mixed methods design, the study documented children’s institutional participation; assessed their school readiness levels and subsequent early grade learning outcomes; observed their classrooms; and collected information from their homes and preschools/schools.

It also made a comprehensive assessment of the qualityof preschool programmes and identified specific programme characteristics that are associated with positive developmental outcomes for children. This policy brief summarizes major findings and recommendations from the study.

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