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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 261-266  

Status of early childhood education under integrated child development services scheme in bankura municipality, West Bengal


1 Post Graduate Trainee, Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India
3 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India
4 Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication6-Dec-2017

Correspondence Address:
Sumana Samanta
Department of Community Medicine, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_369_16

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   Abstract 


Background: Early childhood education (ECE) is an important service provided by Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). It is largely responsible for developing school readiness in children. Objective: The objective of this study is to assess ECE component of ICDS services through measurement of school readiness and find out other correlates. Methods: A cross-sectional evaluation study was carried out among Anganwadi centers (AWCs) under Bankura Municipality, West Bengal, India from July to November 2015. AWCs were selected by 30 cluster sampling. From each selected center Anganwadi worker (AWW), 7 randomly selected children of 5 years of age and their caregivers were included in the study. Data were collected by assessment of children, interview of AWWs and caregivers of children, observation of ECE activity and record review using ECE Program Evaluation Package developed by World Bank and predesigned schedule. Mean, standard deviation, proportions were estimated for description and correlation, unpaired t-test, analysis of one-way variance, multivariable linear regression were performed to find out correlates of school readiness using SPSS 22.0 version. Results: Average duration of ECE activity was 66.0 min/day which was far less than the norm. Overall average score of school readiness of 210 children was 14.0 out of 40. Inadequate physical facility, poor classroom performance acted as deterrents for school readiness. Help in the study at home was revealed to be a determinant of school readiness. Conclusion: For the preparation of formal schooling of children most important needs of the hour are physical facility of AWCs, supportive supervision of AWWs, and creation of congenial environment at home.

Keywords: Anganwadi center, early childhood education, Integrated Child Development Services, school readiness


How to cite this article:
Samanta S, Basu SS, Haldar D, Sarkar AP, Saren AB, Sarkar GN. Status of early childhood education under integrated child development services scheme in bankura municipality, West Bengal. Indian J Public Health 2017;61:261-6

How to cite this URL:
Samanta S, Basu SS, Haldar D, Sarkar AP, Saren AB, Sarkar GN. Status of early childhood education under integrated child development services scheme in bankura municipality, West Bengal. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Oct 23];61:261-6. Available from: http://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2017/61/4/261/220065




   Introduction Top


Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was launched in 1975 to provide a comprehensive package of services for the holistic development of children aged 0–6 years through a vast network of centers, known as “Anganwadi Centre (AWC).”[1] Among the different services provided by AWC, early childhood education (ECE) is imparted to the children of 3–6 years age group.

ECE, most popularly known as preschool education, is the most joyful play-way daily activity, visibly sustained for 3 h a day; it does not impart formal learning but develops the child's desirable attitudes, values, and behavior patterns and aims at providing environmental stimulation.[2] It also contributes to the universalization of primary education, by providing the necessary preparation for primary schooling and offering alternative care to younger siblings of the elder children, thus freeing them, especially girls to attend school.[2] Physical facility of AWCs, monitoring and supervision of AWCs, profile of Anganwadi workers (AWWs), and baseline characteristics of the children are the basic inputs which can affect ECE in large extent. ECE process includes management and organization of AWCs and classroom performance of the children. Whereas numbers of children enrolled and numbers of children present during ECE activity are the major outputs.

The outcome of ECE is school readiness which refers to certain specific skills and concepts which if developed well in children in the early preschool years help them to enhance their social competence, adjust better in school and learn the skills of literacy and numeracy more effectively and in a more sustained manner.[3] School readiness encompasses development in five distinct but interconnected domains – physical well-being and motor development; social and emotional development; approach to learning; language development; cognitive development; and general knowledge. It can be assessed by various tools such as Programme Evaluation Package developed by World Bank, ECE Quality Assessment Scale by Centre for ECE and Development (CECED).[4]

ECE is a powerful framework for improving equity in access to education and learning outcomes, especially in marginalized children.[5] In Bankura district, there are 5541 sanctioned ICDS centers to provide ECE on the one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity, and mortality on the other.[6] Growing urbanization and increase maternal employment outside the home further affect the possibilities of ensuring quality ECE for the young child at home.[7]

With this backdrop, the present study was undertaken in Bankura Municipality to assess the ECE activities at AWCs of Bankura Municipality and to evaluate the school readiness of children and its correlate if any.


   Materials and Methods Top


The present study was a facility-based descriptive evaluation study conducted in Bankura municipality from July to November 2015. There were 83 ICDS centers in Bankura Municipality. All the AWCs of Bankura Municipality with their workers and the beneficiaries of ECE in ICDS in the age group 3–6 years were the study population.

To ensure geographical distribution as well as randomness of selection at first AWCs were selected by 30 cluster sampling among the 83 ICDS centers of Bankura Municipality. AWWs were selected from 30 selected clusters, i.e., AWCs by complete enumeration and the children with 5 years completed age, present on the date of visit had been selected by simple random sampling for the assessment of ECE.

Next step was children selection. Assuming 50% of the ECE beneficiaries had good performance in school readiness test (P = prevalence), the formula n = (Z 2 pq)/l 2 was used where z = 1.96, l = absolute precision of 10% and q was the complement of p. Multiplying by design effect of 2 and allowing a nonresponse rate of 10% sample size for children became 210. From each AWC, 7 children of completed 5 years of age were assessed for school readiness.

ECE Programme Evaluation Package developed by World Bank [3] was the main study tool. Among the different components of the package, observation checklist of physical facility and performance of children, interview schedule for AWWs, and school readiness instrument kit for completed 5-year-old children were utilized in this study. The World Bank toolkit was validated by administering on 426 children in the 5–6 years age group randomly selected at household level in three provinces of India, i.e., Bihar, UP, and MP in 2007.[3] Apart from the toolkit, a predesigned and pretested schedule was used for collecting baseline characteristics from the mothers by telephonic interview. Baseline characteristics included mother's education, caste, socioeconomic status (SES) of the family and help in studies at home. SES was assessed by Modified and Updated BG Prasad Scale 2014. Interview schedule of AWWs and mothers were translated into Bengali and again retranslated into English by Language experts to rectify the discrepancies. Finally, the content was validated by the Faculty members of Community Medicine Department, Bankura Sammilani Medical College (BSMC). The schedule was pretested in 05 AWCs of Sonamukhi Municipality for its necessary modifications. Review of records was done to see the attendance registers of children and the visits done by supervisors and Child Development Project Officer (CDPO).

Ethical clearance had been taken from Institutional Ethics Committee of BSMC and Hospital and permission was obtained from District Project Offices, ICDS. On the day of visit, physical verification, ECE activity observation, interview of AWW, and assessment of children were done after obtaining the written informed consent from the AWW. Apart from that written informed consent was taken from the parents of the children for assessment of school readiness and verbal informed consent was taken for telephonic interview of the mothers.

Operational definitions

Criteria for consideration of classroom activity high, medium, low at municipality level

  • High - if >70% centers perform the activity
  • Medium - if 50%–70% centers perform the activity
  • Low - if <50% centers perform the activity.


Criteria for children getting high, medium, low opportunity to learn (at municipality level)

  • High - if in >70% centers children get opportunity
  • Medium - if in 50%–70% centers children get opportunity
  • Low - if in <50% centers children get opportunity


Data analysis

Collected data were entered into Microsoft excel spreadsheet. Mean, standard deviation (SD), and proportion were estimated as descriptive statistics. Tables were used for displaying data. Pearson's correlation coefficient (r), unpaired 't'-test, analysis of one-way variance, and multivariable linear regression were performed to find out the relationship between school readiness and its correlates such as physical facility, classroom performance of children, management organization of AWCs, attributes of AWWs, and baseline characteristics of the children. SPSS 22.0 version (IBM, Armonk, New York, United States) was used for the purpose of data analysis.


   Results Top


Organization and management of the centers to conduct ECE activities and classroom performance of the children

More than half (60%) of the AWCs had no display on the wall and in rest of the centers display were placed too high. During the ECE hours, children were supervised fully by the AWWs in 40% of the centers. Maximum AWCs had favorable teacher, and child ratio (1:25),[8] 13% had unfavorable ratio. Most of the centers (90%) did not have flexible sitting arrangements; only 10% centers had the space to do indoor activities freely. Not a single AWC followed planned daily schedule though they all had the schedule in place and they did not perform age-appropriate activities. No single AWC was there to give service/facility to differently abled children. Classroom process observation revealed in most of the AWW centers children performed conversation, storytelling, reading, writing, free play with material, and routine activities [Box 1]. It was also been observed that in >70% centers children only got opportunity to learn memorizing and play with other children [Box 2].



In Bankura Municipality, 69% children were getting ECE from ICDS. Among these children, 60% belonged to scheduled caste/tribe (SC/ST). The overall attendance was poor for ECE (33% of the enrolled children were present) during the visit. However, female attendance was higher with 55% of their total enrollment. Duration of ECE conduction was 66 ± 18.26 (mean ± SD) minutes which was far less than the norm (120 min). In maximum centers (67%), more than 50% of the attended children involved in ECE activities. About one-third of the AWCs were seen not to use ECE materials during the ECE hours.

In Bankura Municipality supervisors visited, the AWCs centers every month but CDPO visited 53% of the centers in every 3 months, and rest was visited less often.

Physical facility score was 5.26 ± 1.3 (mean ± SD) on a 10-point scale, management, and organization score was 2.47 ± 1.12 (mean ± SD) on an 8-point scale, classroom performance score of children was 11.9 ± 1.68 (mean ± SD) on a 20-point scale.

School readiness score

Overall average school readiness score of 210 children was 14.03 ± 3.71 (mean ± SD) with range of 5–24 (full marks was 40). One-fourth (25%) of the students got score below 12, 50% students got score between 12 and 17 and 25% students got score above 17.

Correlates of school readiness

It was found that mother's education, other help in studies and SES had significant effects on school readiness [Table 1]. When we did the post hoc test for SES, it revealed that there were significant difference between SES III and V as well as SES IV and V but the difference between SES III and IV was insignificant. Gender and castes of AW children were found to have no significant association with school readiness.
Table 1: Distribution of children (5-6 years) as per school readiness score and few socioeconomic characteristics (n=210)

Click here to view


Age, education, and marital status of AWWs also had no effect on school readiness of the target children. Training status in the form of the time interval since last training (whether training was done >5 years ago or ≤5 years ago) was found to have effect on school readiness. Mean school readiness score of the centers in which AWWs got training ≤5 years ago was higher than the centers where AWWs received the same >5 years ago, and the difference was found to be statistically significant. It was also found that timing of other works done by the AWWs affected school readiness of the children. The centers in which AWWs went out for other works during the operation of ECE had lower mean value of school readiness than the centers whose AWWs did other works before/after the operation of ECE; however, the difference was not statistically significant [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of Anganwadi children (5-6 years) as per the school readiness score and few attributes of Anganwadi workers (n=210)

Click here to view


It was found that physical facility had significant positive correlation with school readiness so also the classroom performance. It was revealed that organization and management of center for ECE had week positive statistically significant correlation with school readiness [Table 3].
Table 3: Relation between school readiness and other factors (n=210)

Click here to view


Multivariable linear regressions analyses were done involving school readiness score and all its correlates, here, the independent variables, for example, physical facility, management, and organization of the center for ECE, performance of children, time interval since last training of AWWs, timing of other works of AWWs, mother's education, SES, and other's help in the study [Table 4].
Table 4: Multivariable linear regressions between school readiness and its correlates (n=210)

Click here to view


Multivariable linear regressions explored that school readiness could be increased by 0.37 and 0.51 units on every unit increase of physical facility and classroom performance respectively and both of these findings were statistically significant. The increase of one unit of other's help in the study would increase school readiness by 4.52 units. Hence, the most important determinant of school readiness was help in the study at home followed by classroom performance followed by physical facility of AWCs. The R square value in multivariable regressions indicated that almost 66% of the variation of school readiness could be predicted by variations in all the independent variables taken in the model. The regression model used was statistically significant as the P value of F test was <0.05 [Table 4], (P value of Global F ratio). Considering the collinearity statistics, various inflation factor values of all the independent variables were <5 and Tolerance values were >0.2, so there would not be any problem of multicollinearity in the output of linear regression.


   Discussion Top


The present study revealed mother's educational qualification had a significant effect on school readiness score that might be the fact that mothers gave the majority of the care at early childhood. As the socioeconomic status improved, there was improvement of school readiness score because children got the provision of private tuition in higher economic conditions. Children who studied at home with the help of others had better school readiness score; it might be because they could get the opportunity to learn in congenial environment.

There is a direct relationship between the infrastructural facility in the AWCs and the quality of service provided. The present study showed 53% of the AWCs were in rented buildings and 37% of the centers have functional toilets. More or less similar finding was there in a study conducted by Qadiri and Manhas [9] (Srinagar, 2009). Sufficient indoor place was found in 50% of the centers, sufficient outdoor place in 27% of the centers and 73% of the centers had no separate storage place in the present study. Population research center [10] also found (Jammu and Kashmir, 2009) insufficient indoor and outdoor places. In the present study, 69% of the beneficiaries were enrolled for ECE in AWCs whereas the percentage was lesser in the study conducted by Sarbjit in Punjab.[11] The present study also found 47% of the centers had inadequate ECE material and 33% of the centers did not use any materials during ECE activity. Dixit et al. in their study at Madhya Pradesh [12] and Chudasama et al. in Gujrat [13] (2012–13) also found shortage of Preschool Education (PSE) Kits. Dhingra and Sharma in their study in Jammu district in 2011[14] showed that due to insufficiency of PSE kit, AWWs, and helpers had made few teaching-learning materials using indigenous stuff, but our study could not find any of such center in spite of lack of PSE kit.

Regarding classroom activity, it can be said that in the present study duration of preschool in 47% of the center was <1 h. This finding was supported by Somaiah and Vijayalakshmi [15] in their study in Karnataka. The present study found that most of the centers conducted conversation, storytelling, teaching of reading and writing, free play with materials, and routine activities. Rajni Dhingra and Sharma Sharma showed in their studying Jammu district in 2011[14] that free group discussion, indoor activities such as storytelling, reciting poems, and songs were conducted in all the centers. In most of the centers of the present study, children got opportunity to memorize and learn to play with other children whereas CECED report [8] in 2014 revealed rote memory was the only opportunity which the children got in almost all centers. Not a single AWC in the present study followed planned daily schedule though they all had the schedule in hand whereas Chudasama et al. in their study in Gujrat [16] (2016) revealed70.8% of the AWCs were using timetable provided by the State Government.

Limitations of the study

Other determinants of school readiness from ICDS such as perception of AWWs and parents about ECE, satisfaction level of the parents about the functions of AWCs could not be explored due to lack of time. Impact of school readiness could not be assessed as follow-up of the children in school was not possible.


   Conclusion and Recommendations Top


For proper functioning of an AWC, it should be housed in a building with a kitchen, has baby-friendly toilet, drinking water facilities, and with adequate space for children to play (Eleventh 5 year plan, 2007–2012). In view of this recommendation, it can be stated that the AWCs studied in Bankura Municipality grossly lacked in the above-mentioned facilities. Hence, the stakeholders are to be moved in this regard.

From the present study, it is evident that help in the study at home is an important determinant of school readiness. Awareness of the parents should be increased about early stimulation for ECE and help in the study at home, which will further improve school readiness.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

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