Advertisement

International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 145–161 | Cite as

Inequalities in Demand and Access to Early Childhood Education in India

  • Saikat GhoshEmail author
Original Article
  • 244 Downloads

Abstract

Global investment in early childhood education is a key policy to address social and economic disadvantage for children and families. Since 1975, India has one of the world’s largest provisions for free, public early childhood education, under a program called the Integrated Child Development Scheme. However, almost half of the children in India still do not have access to early childhood education and the reasons behind this inequality are largely unidentified. This study investigates the nature of factors affecting demand and access to preschool and how parental decisions may be influenced by parents’ education and other socio-economic factors, societal status, and awareness of the value of preschool attendance. The analyses draw on survey data collected from 1373 households in two districts in West Bengal with data gathered through extensive fieldwork in 2015. A key factor affecting preschool non-attendance was found to be lower levels of parent education. This explained the largest variation in the data. It is important to increase parental awareness on the value of preschool, as well as to increase the availability of early childhood education in rural, as well as in urban districts, in India.

Keywords

Early childhood education Preschool attendance Inequality Demand Supply 

Résumé

L’investissement mondial en éducation de la petite enfance constitue une politique clé pour répondre au désavantage social et économique des enfants et des familles. Les dispositions prises par l’Inde depuis 1975 sont parmi les plus importantes au monde en matière d’éducation publique, gratuite de la petite enfance, dans le cadre d’un programme intitulé Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS, Régime intégré du développement de l’enfant). Néanmoins, près de la moitié des enfants en Inde n’a toujours pas accès à l’éducation de la petite enfance et les raisons à l’origine de cette inégalité sont loin d’être identifiées. Cette étude explore la nature des facteurs affectant la demande et l’accès à l’éducation préscolaire, ainsi que la façon dont les décisions parentales peuvent être influencées par l’éducation des parents et d’autres facteurs socioéconomiques, le statut sociétal et la conscience de la valeur de la fréquentation préscolaire. Les analyses s’appuient sur des données d’enquêtes collectées auprès de 1373 foyers de deux districts du Bengale occidental, avec des données rassemblées à l’occasion d’un vaste travail de terrain en 2015. Les niveaux plus faibles d’éducation des parents se sont révélés être un facteur clé affectant la non fréquentation préscolaire. Ceci explique la variation la plus grande dans les données. Il est important de renforcer la conscience parentale de la valeur de l’éducation préscolaire, ainsi que d’augmenter la disponibilité de l’éducation de la petite enfance dans les districts tant ruraux qu’urbains, en Inde.

Resumen

La inversión global en educación infantil temprana es una política importante para contrarrestar la desigualdad social y económica que sufren las familias y la población infantil. Desde 1975 India cuenta con una de las mayores ofertas de educación infantil temprana pública gratis bajo un programa denominado Esquema de Desarrollo Integrado de la Infancia (ICDS por su abreviatura en inglés). Sin embargo, casi la mitad de los niños en India aun no tienen acceso a educación infantil temprana y las razones de esta disparidad son en su mayor parte desconocidas. El presente estudio investiga la naturaleza de los factores que afectan la demanda y el acceso a la educación preescolar y la forma en que las decisiones de los padres pueden estar influenciadas por factores socio económicos y de educación de los padres, su clase social y falta de reconocimiento de la importancia de asistencia a clases. Los análisis se basaron en datos obtenidos por medio de una encuesta a 1.373 familias en dos distritos de Bengala Occidental mediante un intenso trabajo de campo en el año 2015. Se concluyó que los niveles bajos de educación de los padres constituyen un factor importante que afecta la asistencia a clases de niños de preescolar. Esto explicó la gran variedad en los datos. Es de vital importancia crear conciencia en los padres sobre la importancia de la educación preescolar, así como aumentar la oferta de educación infantil temprana en distritos rurales y urbanos de India.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to the State Government of West Bengal, India, for their support for this project, during the field work, and also grateful for the support from the German Excellence Initiatives (DFG) for the funding of field work.

References

  1. Almond, D., & Currie. J. (2011). Human capital development before age five. In O. Ashenfelter, & D. Card (Eds.), Handbook of labor economics (Vol 4, Part B: pp. 315–1486). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  2. Bakken, L., Brown, N., & Downing, B. (2017). Early childhood education: The long-term benefits. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,31(2), 255–269.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2016.1273285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1964). Human capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bertram, T., Pascal, C., Cummins, A., Delaney, S., Ludlow, C., Lyndon, H., et al. (2016). Early childhood policies and systems in eight countries: Findings from IEA’s early childhood education study. Hamburg, Germany: IEA. Retrieved from https://www.iea.nl/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Electronic_versions/ECES-policies_and_systems-report.pdf.
  5. Blau, D., & Currie, J. (2006). Pre-school, day care, and after-school care: Who’s minding the kids? In E. Hanushek & F. Welch (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of education (Vol. 2, pp. 1163–1278). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  6. Census of India. (2011). Population enumeration. New Delhi: Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved from http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/population_enumeration.html.
  7. Checchi, D. (2006). The economics of education. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunha, F., & Heckman, J. J. (2007). The technology of skill formation. American Economic Review,97(2), 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeCicca, P. & Smith, J. D. (2011). The long-run impacts of early childhood education: Evidence from a failed policy experiment. Working Paper 17085. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w17085.
  10. Delprato, M., Dunne, M., & Zeitlyn, B. (2016). Preschool attendance: A multilevel analysis of individual and community factors in 21 low and middle-income countries. International Journal of Quantitative Research in Education,3(1/2), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dumas, C., & Lefranc, A. (2012). Early schooling and later outcomes: Evidence from pre-school extension in France. In J. Ermisch, M. Jantti, & T. Smeeding (Eds.), Cross-national research on the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage (pp. 164–189). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  12. Economist Intelligence Unit. (2012). Starting well: Benchmarking early education across the world. London, UK: The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Retrieved from http://graphics.eiu.com/upload/eb/Lienstartingwell.pdf.
  13. Engle, P. L., Fernald, L. C. H., Alderman, H., Behrman, J., O’Gara, C., Yousafzai, A., et al. (2011). Strategies for reducing inequalities and improving developmental outcomes for young children in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet,378(9799), 1339–1353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Evans, J. L., Robert, G. M., & Ilfeld, E. M. (2000). Early childhood counts: A programming guide on early childhood care and development. WBI Learning Resources Series. Washington, DC: The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gangbar, J., Rajan, P., & Gayithri, K. (2014). Integrated child development services in India—A sub-national review. Bangalore, India: The Institute for Social and Economic Change.Google Scholar
  16. Gibson, C. M., & Weisner, T. S. (2002). Rational and ecocultural circumstances of program take-up among low-income working parents. Human Organization,61(2), 154–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gormley, W. T., Jr., Gayer, T., & Phillips, D. (2008). Preschool programs can boost school readiness. Science,320(1), 1723–1724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Government of India. (2011). Evaluation study on integrated child development scheme (ICDS)-Vol. 1. PEO Report No. 218. New Delhi: Planning Commission of India.Google Scholar
  19. Han, W. J. (2004). Nonstandard work schedules and child care decisions: Evidence from the NICHD study of early child care. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,19, 231–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hazarika, G., & Viren, V. (2013). The effect of early childhood developmental program attendance on future school enrolment in rural north India. Economics of Education Review,34, 146–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Heckman, J. J. (2000). Policies to foster human capital. Research in Economics,54, 3–56.  https://doi.org/10.1006/reec.1999.0225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hewett, C. N., Sweller, N., Taylor, A., Harrison, L., & Bowes, J. (2014). Family, child and location factors and parents’ reasons for multiple concurrent childcare arrangements in the years before school in Australia. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,29, 51–63.Google Scholar
  23. Irwin, LG., Siddiqui, A. & Hertzman, C. (2007). Early child development: A powerful equaliser. Final report prepared for the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinant of Health. Vancouver: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  24. Jackson, S. L., Vann William, F., Jr. Kotch, J. B., Pahel, B. T., & Lee, J. Y. (2011). Impact of poor oral health on children’s school attendance and performance. American Journal of Public Health,101(10), 1900–1906.  https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2010.200915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jonsson, J. O., & Erikson, R. (2000). Understanding educational inequality: The Swedish experience. L’Annee sociologique (1940/1948). Troisieme serie,50(2), 345–382.Google Scholar
  26. Jung, H. & Hasan, A. (2014). The impact of early childhood education on early achievement gaps: Evidence from the Indonesia early childhood education and development (ECED) project. Policy Research Working paper 6794. Washington, DC: The World Bank Group, East Asia and Pacific Region.Google Scholar
  27. Meyers, M. K., & Jordan, L. P. (2009). Choice and accommodation in parental child care decisions. Community Development,37(2), 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). (2015). Integrated Child Development Scheme. New Delhi, India: Government of India. Retrieved from http://wcd.nic.in/icds.htm.
  29. Nonoyama-Tarumi, Y. & Ota, Y. (2010). Early childhood development in developing countries: Pre-primary education, parenting, and health care. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2011. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  30. OECD. (2012). Starting strong III: A quality toolbox for early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD Publishing.  https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264123564-en.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pascal, C., & Bertram, T. (2012). The impact of early education as a strategy in countering socio-economic disadvantage. London: Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).Google Scholar
  32. Sankaran, S., Sekerdej, M., & Von Hecker, U. (2017). The role of Indian caste identity and caste inconsistent norms on status representation. Frontiers in Psychology: Personality and Social Psychology,8, 487.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schober, P. S., & Spiess, C. K. (2013). Early childhood education activities and care arrangements of disadvantaged children in Germany. Child Indicators Research,6, 709–735.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-013-9191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Seginer, R., & Vermulst, A. D. (2002). Family environment, educational aspiration, and academic achievement in two cultural settings. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,33(6), 540–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spiess, C. K., Berger, E. M., & Groh-Samberg, O. (2008). Overcoming disparities and expanding access to early childhood services in Germany: Policy considerations and funding options. Innocenti Working Paper 2008-03. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.Google Scholar
  36. Tocu, R. (2014). Study on the parental beliefs and attitudes towards child rearing and education. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences,137, 153–157.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. UNICEF. (2001). The state of the world’s children. New York. UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/sowc01/pdf/SOWC3.pdf.
  38. UNICEF. (2016). The state of the world’s children: A fair chance for every child. New York. UNICEF. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_SOWC_2016.pdf.
  39. United Nations. (2017). The sustainable development goals report. New York. United Nations. Retrieved from https://sdgactioncampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/TheSustainableDevelopmentGoalsReport2017.pdf.
  40. Vesely, C. K. (2013). Low-income African and Latina immigrant mothers’ selection of early childhood care and education (ECCE): Considering the complexity of cultural and structural influences. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,28, 470–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Waldfogel, J. (2015). The role of preschool in reducing inequality. Bonn, Germany: Institute of Labor Economics.  https://doi.org/10.15185/izawol.219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Weiland, C., & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Impacts of a prekindergarten program on children’s mathematics, language, literacy, executive function, and emotional skills. Child Development,84(6), 2112–2130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wooldridge, J. M. (2009). Introductory econometrics: A modern approach. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  44. World Bank. (2015). School enrolment, pre-primary [database]. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRE.ENRR?view=chart.
  45. Yoshikawa, H., Weiland, C., Brooks-Gunn, J., Burchinal, M. R., Espinosa, L. M., Gormley, W. T., et al. (2013). Investing in our future: The evidence base on preschool education. Ann Arbor, MI: Society for Research in Child Development.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS)University of BambergBambergGermany

Personalised recommendations