Child education How early education will be improved for low-income families in urban India

Low-income households in Urban India invest a disproportionate amount of their income on sending their children to private pre-schools. But, most pre-school programs don't provide the foundation these children need.

von John Soleanicov, Program Director, Education at UBS Optimus Foundation 30. Nov 2018

The family and home environment is crucial to a young child’s survival and development. But, access to education programs outside the home is also important in providing children with the basic cognitive and language skills they need to flourish in school. Access to quality education provides new opportunities and significantly improves lives. Low-cost private preschools should not only be viable for the operators but also educationally effective for children.

As most parents perceive the quality of government pre-schools to be poor, more than 27 million low-income households in urban India are spending a disproportionate amount of their income on private pre-schools. The monthly earning of a low-income family amounts to 9,000 – 25,000 Indian rupees.1 That's the equivalent of no more than 330 Swiss francs, of which they are investing six Percent (per child) to send their children to affordable private schools (APSs).

These families and their children are facing the problem that such pre-schools are primarily focusing on rote learning – a technique teaching children to repeat letters, words and numbers instead of providing them with conceptual understanding, cognitive, socio-emotional and executive function skills. And as a result, the learning outcomes are generally poor. Only 35 Percent of grade 10 students can read at grade four level. This problem already starts in grade one, where only 22 percent of children can read simple words like "sat", "pin" or "mug".1 It's a frightening fact that most children entering grade one are not ready for school yet even if their parents are spending a significant proportion of their income on private pre-schools.

This is exactly what FSG's “Program to Improve Private Early Education (PIPE)” aims for: to improve the overall quality of private Early Childhood Education (ECE). One of the main tasks is to replace rote memorization with Activity-based learning (ABL) in 300,000 Indian APSs by assisting eight private companies to supply high-quality ABL methods and tools to APSs. The program is already off to a great start: as of 2018, it provides ABL solutions to over 400 schools, resulting in improved learning results.

Want to know more about PIPE and its approach to learning? Watch the video

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