Early Childhood Care and Education in India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSES2021024

Semester and Year Offered: 1st Semester (Monsoon Semester)

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Rajshree Chanchal

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: NA

Course Objectives/Description:

The course is conceptualized to familiarize students with the interdisciplinary and theoretical underpinnings of this stage of care and education within a holistic and integrative frame. It will expose them to the meaning and crucial significance of this stage in the life of an individual, in the context of recent research in neuroscience, economics and child development. In addition, it will also help students traverse the history of the development of ECCE globally and in the Indian context, and in the process understand the shifts in plans, policies and legislative provisions and related implications. The students will alongside gain an understanding of the journey from welfare to development to a rights’ perspective and its significance, given the diverse social, cultural, economic and linguistic contexts of childhood in India. The students will be made aware of the changing socio-political realities and the emergence of a vibrant but unregulated private sector, the role of state and its ramifications for children’s learning and development. In this context it will also familiarize the students with the range of services available to children in their early childhood years


  1. Introduce students to the interdisciplinary and integrative concept and significance of ECCE as the first and foundation stage of education and its location within a holistic child development and sociological framework.
  2. Provide an introductory framework for the other courses in the programme by helping them make conceptual connections.
  3. Familiarize students with the socio-historical and political contexts for development of some key policies and programmes related to early childhood care and education globally and in India.
  4. Engage students in discussions on issues of universality versus contextuality, particularly from a child rights’ perspective in India, given its diversity, and socio-cultural challenges.
  5. Help students examine current issues and debates in the field of ECCE.


Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts and significance of early childhood care education.
  2. Identify and present key arguments of policies and programmes related to issues of childhood and children’s rights.
  3. Understand and problematize the socio-historic and political constructs around childhood nationally as well as globally.
  4. Make linkages between local and lived experiences of children living under different socio-economic conditions across the globe.
  5. Recognize why state provision of childcare services is essential for the deprived sections of the society and how the health of the child is related with the mother. Why there is need for provision of integrated child development services.
  6. Demonstrate presentation skills and knowledge of issues affecting children’s rights and child care and education services in today’s globalising world.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

The course is divided into three units:

  1. Understanding Early Childhood Care and Education (16 hours):The course will help students develop an understanding of child and childhood from a multidisciplinary and life cycle perspective including developmental, philosophical, and socio –cultural viewpoints and within it the concept and significance of early childhood care and education. Examine the terms ‘early’, ‘childhood’, ‘care’, ‘education’ and raise questions in relation to work, play, leisure, learning, protection, nutrition, identity, child development, control, institutions, marginalization, culture, caste, gender, and so on. Acronyms – ECCE, ECD, ECED – and their conceptual, political and historical underpinnings. Integrative nature of ECCE. Significance of ECCE as demonstrated by research from different disciplines including economics (returns to investment in ECCE), child development, education and neuroscience. Raise questions on quality in ECCE: Perspectives and challenges; concepts of school readiness, play way method, age appropriateness and development appropriateness and implications in planning ECCE.                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. Contextualising Early Childhood Care and Education (16 hours):In Unit 2 the students will traverse the history of the development of ECCE, both globally and in the Indian context, and in the process understand the shifts in plans, policies and legislative provisions up to the recent National Policy on ECCE 2013. Situate ECCE in global context through international policies related to ECCE. Understand historical perspective of ECCE in India from a welfare approach to rights’ based perspective, the thrusts in the Twelfth Five year Plan and current debate on concept of Early Childhood Care and Education versus Early Childhood Development. Critically understand policy and provisioning frameworks for ECCE in India and role of international agencies in formulation and implementation of plans, policies and schemes.                                                                                        
  3. Issues and Debates in Early Childhood Care and Education in India (16 hours):In this unit, students will engage with the questions of marginalization, access, equity and quality in the field of ECCE in contemporary India. They will discuss these issues in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (2015) and socio-cultural diversities Debates on quality with access and equity. Universal vs. contextual in ECCE from a rights’ perspective and changing contours within the field of ECCE. Changing socio-political realities and theoretical perspectives on curriculum and expansion of private provision and public private partnerships. Emerging Challenges with regard to the role of states within a federal structure and response to the National Curriculum Framework in ECCE (2013)                                                                                                                                                             

 Assessment Details with weights:

  • Documentary review 20%
  • Review of ECCE Policy Documents 30%
  • Individual term paper 20%
  • End term examination 30%


Reading List:

  • Anandalakshmy, S. & Bajaj, M. (1982). Childhood in the weaver’s community in Varanasi: Socialisation for adult roles. In Sinha, D. (Ed.) Socialization of the Indian child (pp. 31-38). New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.
  • Balagopalan, S. (2008). Memories of tomorrow: children, labor, and the panacea of formal schooling. The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 1(2). 267-285.
  • Balagopalan, S. (2011). Introduction: Children’s lives and the Indian context. Childhood, 18(3), 291-297.
  • Baxter, J. E. (2008). The archaeology of childhood. Annual Review of Anthropology. 37,
  • Burman, E. (2012). Deconstructing neoliberal childhood: Towards a feminist antipsychological approach. Childhood, 19(4), 423-438.
  • Dreze, J. (2006). Universalisation with quality: ICDS in a rights perspective. Economic and political weekly, 41(34). 3706-3715.
  • Gupta, A. (2006). Infant and young child feeding: An ‘optimal’ approach. Economic and Political Weekly, 3666-3671.
  • Gupta, L. (2008). Growing up Hindu and Muslim: How early does it happen? Economic and Political Weekly, 43(6), 35-41.
  • Haq: Centre for Child Rights. (2015). Politics, paisa or priorities: Where do children fit into the 2015-16 union budget? New Delhi: Haq. Retrieved from
  • Kaul, V. & Sankar, D. (2009). Early childhood care and education in India: Mid-decade assessment (pp.1-7). New Delhi: NUEPA.
  • Kaul, V. (2012). Can early childhood care and education help overcome family and social disadvantage – evidence from India. In Kapur. M, Koot. H. M, Lamb.M.E (Eds.) Developmental psychology and education: Bridging the gap (pp. 114-133). New Delhi: Manak.
  • Kaul, V. and Bhargarh, A. (2013 ). Quality and diversity in Early Childhood Education: A view from three states (Executive Summary). New Delhi: Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development.
  • Kaul, V. et al. (2004). Reaching out to the Child: An integrated approach to child development (pp.15-28). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Kaur, B. (2004). Keeping the infants of coolies out of harm’s way: Raj, church and infant education in India, 1830-51. Contemporary issues in early childhood, 5(2), 221-232.
  • Kaur, B. (2006). Nineteenth century missionary infant schools in three colonial settings: The experience in India, New Zealand, and Canada. Conference paper. Reconceptualizing early childhood education: research, theory and practice, Rotorua, New Zealand. Retrieved from:
  • Mustard, J. F. (2002). Early childhood development and the brain - the base for health, learning and behavior throughout life. From early child development to human development (pp. 23-53). Sao Paulo: Foundation Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal.
  • Ramachandran, V. (2004). Snakes and ladders: factors influencing successful primary school completion for children in poverty contexts (pp. 35-75). New Delhi: World Bank.
  • Right to Education Act. (2009). Retrieved from
  • Sadgopal, A. (2010). Right to education vs. right to education act. Social Scientist. 38(9/12), 17-50.
  • Sinha, S. (2006). Infant survival: a political challenge. Economic and Political Weekly.
  • Sinha. D. (2006). Rethinking ICDS: a rights based perspective. Economic and political weekly. 3689-3694.
  • Tobin, J. (2005). Quality in early childhood education: an anthropologist’s perspective. Early Education and Development, 16(4), 421-434.
  • Vasanta, D. (2004). Childhood, work and schooling: some reflections. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 2(1), 5-28.
  • Wyness, M. (2011). The social meaning of childhood. Childhood and Theory (pp. 9-29). Basingtoke: Palgrave McMillan.
  • Young, M. E. (2002). From early child development to human development: Introduction and overview (pp.1-18). Sao Paulo: Foundation Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal

Videos from Centre for Developing Child

In Brief: The Science of Neglect

What is resilience?

how is resilience built?

Film: Turtles can’t fly, Bread Winner, Where Knowledge is Free

Policy Documents –

  • Position paper on Early Childhood Education 2005;
  • National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education 2013;
  • National Policy on Education 1986;
  • UN Convention on Rights of Children
  • Government of India. (2013). ICDS mission: the broad framework for implementation. Available at:



  • Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development. Unpacking care: Protecting early childhood. New Delhi, D: CARE India.
  • Chatterjee, M. (2006). Decentralised childcare services: the SEWA experience. Economic and Political weekly, 3660-3664.
  • Esso World Theater (Producer), & Ray, S. (Director). (1964). Two [Film]. India: Esso World Theater. Retrieved from
  • Gandhi, M. K. (2011). An autobiography or the story of my experiments with truth (pp. 3-29) New Delhi, ND: Rupa
  • Gopaldas, T. (2006). The problem and possible intervention. Economic and Political Weekly, 3671-3674.
  • Kumar, K. (2006). Childhood in a globalising world. Economic and Political weekly. 4030-4034.
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development. (1992). National Policy on Education 1986 Programme of Action 1992 (pp. 6-12). New Delhi, ND: Government of India.
  • Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation. (2012). Children in India 2012: A statistical appraisal (17-24). New Delhi, ND: Government of India.
  • Natarajan, S., Anand, S. (2010). Bhimayana: Experiences of untouchability (pp. 26-45). New Delhi, ND: Navayana.
  • Nieuwenhuys, O. (1998). Global childhood and the politics of contempt. Alternatives: Global, local, political. 23(3), 267-289. post_114221372643514437.html
  • Premchand, M. Gilli danda. Retrieved from
  • Rani, N. I. (2006). Child care by poor single mothers: study of mother-headed families in India. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 37(1), 75-91.
  • Sinha. S. (2009). Deficit childhoods. India international centre quarterly, 36(2), 48-57.
  • Swaminathan, M. (1998). The First Five Years: A Critical Perspective on ECCE in India (pp. 1-30). New Delhi: Sage.
  • Tagore, R. (2007). Boyhood Days.
  • A. (1979). How to run a balwadi: sample of a do-it-yourself guidebook. New Delhi: UNESCO. pp. 1-22
  • Weiner, M. (1991). Historical comparisons: advanced industrial countries. The child and the state in India (pp. 109-153). Oxford: Princeton University Press.