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Role of creche in quality child care for brain development underlined

By The Assam Tribune

GUWAHATI, March 10 - Sishu Bikash Kendra, Guwahati celebrated its silver jubilee on March 7 and 8, according to a press release issued today.

As part of the programme the �Dr. Usharanee Choudhury Memorial Lecture� was held on March 7 at Rabindra Bhawan. The chief guest on the occasion, retired professor of paediatrics Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Dr JN Sharma highlighted many important aspects of the growth and development of a child. He said equal emphasis should be given to the four dimensions � physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual quotient and training in all the four should be started before the child attains two years age and continued throughout his/her life.

Dr Sharma described the role of a creche in imparting quality child care during the most vital period of brain development and growth i.e., the first 1,000 days. As such, he stressed the need for a scientifically designed quality cr�che system so as to enable a child to enter school with better math, language and social skills.

On the occasion, the Sishu Bikash Awards were presented to Prof Gayatri Bezboruah for the year 2019 and Nimi Borgohain for the year 2020 by advisors and life members of the organisation Dr Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury and Dr Alaka Goswami respectively for their valuable contributions in the field of early child care and education (ECCE). A handbook on ECCE and a souvenir on Sishu Bikash Kendra Usha Kiron were also released on the occasion by eminent journalist Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah.

The keynote lecture on the topic �The Importance and Impact of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) on the Social, Economic and Cultural Fabric of a nation � An Indian Perspective�, prepared by Prof Venita Kaul, professor emerita education and executive chairperson, Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED), Ambedkar University, was delivered by Dr Asha Kuthari Chaudhuri, head, Department of English, Gauhati University.

Prof Kaul stated that there is a very positive evidence available from research that the first eight years of early childhood are actually �the window of opportunity� to support and scaffold children�s development through good quality ECCE so that it supports brain growth and this has the potential to narrow if not completely obliterate the social equity gaps that exist. Particularly in developing countries like India with significant socio-economic diversity and social stratification, ECCE can thus well become an instrument of social change.

Prof Kaul also stated that longitudinal research in many advanced countries has indicated that the benefits of good quality ECCE are sustained and can be observed even in adulthood.

Children with good quality ECCE experience when tracked as adults, were found to have better social adjustment, less incidence of juvenile delinquency and incarceration, better incomes and prosperity and even better marital adjustment.

A recent longitudinal research, titled India Early Childhood Education Impact Study (IECEI), perhaps the first of its kind in India, conducted by CECED in collaboration with ASER Centre, in three states including Assam, identified 14,000 four-year-olds and tracked them annually for a period of five years. The study clearly indicated that developmentally appropriate and good quality preschool education significantly enhanced school readiness levels, and children who scored higher in school readiness as assessed at age 5 in terms of cognitive and language concepts and skills, (and not literacy and numeracy) demonstrated significantly better learning levels later in the early primary grades in language and mathematics.

Prof Kaul said, �We are hopeful that the draft National Policy on Education, (which is currently awaiting clearance from the Cabinet), which has acknowledged the value of the early years, especially in the context of the prevailing learning crisis in schools, will soon be released and will also get implemented so that finally there will be due attention given along with budgetary support to ECCE. This will be a major contribution to ensuring all children in India have the opportunity to develop a sound and stable learning and developmental foundation for life.�

On March 8, performances by children, annual day celebrations, free health camp for children by Apollo Hospitals Guwahati and exhibition-cum-sale by Matri Udyog were held. The chief guest of the occasion was eminent architect Biswa Dutta who scientifically designed the ECCE Facility Centre of Sishu Bikash Kendra at Maniknagar, RG Baruah Road here.

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