In Bangladesh, a number of people are not familiar with this topic. According to World Health Organization (WHO), “early childhood development (ECD) encompasses physical, socio emotional, cognitive and motor development between 0-8 years of age.” On the other hand, early childhood education (ECE) means preschool years of children. A famous person said about ECE, “ECE consists of activities and/ or experiences that are intended to effect developmental changes in children prior to their entry into elementary school.”
In ECD, for every child, early moments matter. The first years of a child’s is most important set the stage for all future growth. In the earliest life, especially from pregnancy to age three, for a baby need nutrition, protection and incitation for strong healthy brain development. Neuro-science provides evidence regarding baby’s brain development. As a result, we know that in their earliest years, babies’ brains form new connections at an astounding rate.
The early moment is a brain building process period. In this period, genes and real life experiences i.e. good protection, nutrition and stimulation from talk, play and responsive attention from caregivers shape neural connections. Combination of nurture and nature establishes the foundation of a child’s future. In Bangladesh, many children are still missing the ‘eat, play and love’. their brain needs to be developed.
In Education system of Bangladesh, there are two ministers managing education. First one is the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME), which maintain pre-primary, primary education (grades 1–5), literacy and non-formal education; and second one is the Ministry of Education (MoE), which covers to oversee secondary education (grades 6–12), higher education, and madrasah education, technical and vocational education and training. In Bangladesh, has a largest primary education system, contemporary others countries in the world. Here 18 million children enrolled in more than 120,000 schools. Actually, it covers one-year free pre-primary education and five-year free compulsory primary education. Duty of ECD falls under the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA), specific the learning and development provisions for 0 to 5 years cohort. However, MoPME has initiated the provision for 4 to 5 years cohort in present time.
We have a huge shortage of skilled teachers for these 18 million children. Many teachers do not know about early childhood development. In Bangladesh, primary level teachers 0nly 35% had specially training pre- primary education and 56% had any kind of training. Pre- primary level teaching is more different from primary teaching technique. Pre- primary education is play-basededucation. Nevertheless, there is also limitation in this sector.
Why need special attention toward early childhood education? Have a famous English proverbs ‘Education is the backbone of nation’; early childhood education is pillar of education. In early childhood education period, a child’s intellectual and spiritual development takes place. Nevertheless, we are not concerned about early childhood development. The huge number of parents in Bangladesh, they are not concern about early childhood development. There are no training experience about early childhood education and early childhood development.
Education policies in Bangladesh have space about early childhood development or early childhood education but no effective implementation. One study found, not all the schools had adequate education elements- 35.8% had toys, 53.3% had charts, 34.3% had physical exercise items, 28.5% had drawing items and 11.9% had singing, dancing and drama related items.Thirty-nine (39%) percent of the schools had none.
Not only is that, in the whole of Bangladesh, there only one private university offer early childhood development course which is BRAC University. Without private universities Bangladesh has 52 plus public universities. Nevertheless, no universities has that subject. It expresses indifference to early childhood development and early childhood education. We should spread education on early childhood development education across the country.
As a developing country, we have considerable limitations but our children are our future. These tenderhearted children will one day represent Bangladesh. So we need to create an environment for them to grow in a development way. This crisis can be end, if NGOs and Government work together.
The writer is a undergraduate student, Department of Public Administration, Comilla University, Bangladesh.