ChildFund India’s early years education programs focus on providing home and centre based quality learning stimulation, positive parenting skills, and skills required to detect potential development disorders through ChildFund-run Balwadis and collaboration with Integrated Child Development Centers.

When children enter formal schooling, we intervene in the following ways:

  • Provide financial support to Deprived, Excluded and Vulnerable children.
  • Improve learning levels through in-school and out-of-school processes.
  • Improve school infrastructure by working with School Management Committees.

As they become adolescents and young adults, the program develops to provide counseling, to mentor, and to empower them with employable vocational, professional and life skill education.

The Context

In the last decade India has made impressive strides in improving children’s enrolment in formal schooling and reducing the gender gap in enrolment at the primary level. However, despite progress, access and retention are major issues in post primary education, especially of girls.

Only a fourth of all children in class III can read a class II text fluently, which is a drop of more than 5 per cent over four years.  A quarter of children in class III could not recognise numbers between 10 and 99, a drop of 13% over four years (as per ASER 2014).

Often, parents disillusioned by poor learning outcomes send children into labor for extra income or have their daughters married off early.

And despite such findings, early childhood education remains a neglected sector. Most Early Childhood Centers run by the government focus more on distribution of precooked meals and less on providing quality early childhood stimulation.

Research shows that an investment of Re. 1 in early childhood education adds Rs. 3 to the economy in the longer run. Quality early childhood education is linked to success in higher education, better jobs and skills.

How It Works

Home and center based interventions (age 3-5)

In the early years, our interventions foster community-based positive parenting for optimal development of children, to prevent the occurrence of developmental risks, and to create a safe and caring family environment. This is complimented with home-based stimulation, through observations and counseling vital for child assessment. We facilitate parents and caregivers to begin focusing on their child’s pre-school education, and build their capacity on child rearing best practices, positive behavior & attitude.

For children aged 3-6, we work through center-based interventions:

  • Strengthening Anganwadi / Balwadi Management Committees with increased participation of males, skill training of Anganwadi workers and caregivers.
  • Creating linkages between the government’s ICDS department, community and preschool centers.
  • Initiating innovative, replicable practices, activities and demonstrations including designing child-led indicators to monitor attendance.

Improving access and retention (age 6-14)

ChildFund India is working towards improving children’s access to formal education and improving their retention, especially that of girls. We help improve community participation in school governance, strengthening family and community support towards education of children, reducing corporal punishment in schools and providing children with essential life skills to enable them to take decisions affecting their lives.

The highlights of this program are:

  • Mainstreaming under-served children in the formal education system and supporting them with resources to perform well in their academic sphere.
  • Reducing dropout in high risk areas and strengthening community mechanisms to ensure no child is left out of school.
  • Strengthening participation by capturing children’s voices along with inputs from community.
  • Equipping schools with essential infrastructure.
  • Building teacher capacity through training and grade appropriate teaching-learning material.
  • Boosting student performance through reading improvement plans, scholarships, libraries, child resource centers, coaching classes, youth resource centers and study circles.
  • Develop self-governing and monitoring devices like child wellbeing committees and children’s parliaments.
  • Improve learning outcomes and quality of education in schools, by working with teachers to improve the classroom transaction process by adopting innovative pedagogy.
  • Link families with social protection schemes and help them improve their investment in the health and education of their children.

Providing vocational and life skills (age 15-24)

As children become young adults and prepare to take on bigger responsibilities, their education needs become vastly different. ChildFund helps them become ready for this stage of their life by providing life skills training that eases this transition. Our interventions also empower and equip students with vocational and professional skills.

At this juncture, we focus with more intensity on the higher education of girls from marginalized, tribal and hilly communities through a scholarship programme, helping them take on advanced courses. We also provide vocational training and functional literacy for illiterate women and girls in the community.

Impact and Reach

Currently, ChildFund India’s education program covers more than 1900 schools in 1800 villages across 14 states – mostly in tribal, hilly, conflict-affected and remote areas. We impact 250,000 school going and 24,000 non-school going children.