As India celebrates yet another budget, a small section of this country, small maybe but very important, has been left out once again. After all how many people can a government please? The budget is well defined and has allocated enough to all concerned, maybe we in the early childhood community are not vocal enough about our needs or advocate enough to the government about the support that we require.
An all India appeal to all the ministers, members of parliament and all in the government - we appeal to you to support more initiatives for early childhood education as they are the future- the future voters, the future citizens and the future youth.
Through the little ones you connect with the parents, as ‘pester power’ works. This was proved when we used pester power this election and asked all our little babies to check for the ‘black dot’ on their parents fingers. They not only checked it on their parent’s fingers but they went a step ahead and harassed the life out of every adult they came across to get that black dot! The adults that voted this year are adults that grew up in quality early childhood programs and are now functioning as effective citizens. Without the kind of start we helped them obtain, they might not have cared who got elected.
Early childhood education deserves its rightful place of respect in the community both in the country and city and your support to this initiative will help us bring about awareness both about the teaching profession and the right respect among parents and future teachers.
The budget must provide not only for nutrition - the ICDS scheme of the government has got some barely two or three percent more than last year and that also will only cover the nutrition needs of the children, then what about the other needs? The early years are the most important, we need to sanction money for parent education, teacher education, teacher training, setting up crèches for all strata of working women, educating women about pregnancy and parenting. What about all this?
We want what the American President gave America; we want this for India and early childhood education in India. As new president, Barack Obama said in his first address to the nation: “It will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life.”
In our culture when a family shares its resources among the family members, first they think about the children and allocate resources for them. But the budget tends to ignore this very cultural practise; let’s have a budget that will allocate more funds to the future of this country.
I would like to end by quoting brilliant educator Ivan Welton Fitzwater. When asked, this well known icon had said, “I am a teacher! What I do and say are being absorbed by young minds who will echo these images across the ages. My lessons will be immortal, affecting people yet unborn, people I will never see or know. The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad. The pliable minds of tomorrow's leaders will be molded either artistically or grotesquely by what I do.
Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves or murderers of the future.
Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.”
So by allocating more in the budget for the early years the government will just be doing its bit for future members of parliament and ministers. Think about it.
Friends, let’s think of ways to involve our policy makers more in early childhood education initiatives: Any ideas?