School Readiness of Children from Scheduled Tribe Communities
(Research Report of PAC Programme 17.01)
Dr. Laxmidhar Behera
Dr. I. P. Gowramma
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Shool Readiness of Children from Scheduled Tribe Communities
The early six to eight years of child’s life are regarded to be the most critical years for lifelong development as the pace of development during these years is extremely rapid. So the National Policy on Education (1986) recognized the importance of early childhood care and education (ECCE) and suggested to make ECCE programmes child oriented with a focus around play and individuality of the child. The present study was conducted in Koraput district of Odisha with the following objectives. (1)To analyze school readiness of children from the scheduled tribe community in terms of physical, social, emotional and cognitive (language and arithmetic) dimensions(2)To examine gaps in school readiness of children in general and also with specific reference to gender and disability (3)To identify contextual interventions with a view to prepare children for formal schooling.
The survey and case study procedure, under descriptive research, was used for carrying out the study. The main purpose of the study is to assess school readiness of children belonging to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community of KBK districts of Odisha in terms of physical, social, emotional and cognitive (language and arithmetic) competencies. Inter alia, the study seeks to assess the perceptions of the primary school teachers, Anganwadi workers, parents concerned on school readiness of the children belonging to from the Scheduled Tribe communities as well as to assess the school readiness of the Scheduled Tribe children.Out of three KBK districts, one district i.e., Koraput was selected purposively for the study with reference to developmental patterns and diversity in socio-cultural aspects representing different scheduled tribe communities. Three out of 14 blocks of Koraput such as: Koraput, Similiguda and Baipariguda were selected randomly for the study. From among total 297 Anganwadi Centers in these blocks, 30 were selected randomly, 10 from each block, for the purpose. However, 30 Anganwadi Workers working in these centers were selected as informants. Besides, 28 teachers belonging to neighborhood primary schools, 152 children, and 38 parents of children concerned were selected randomly. The detail of sample distribution is as following:
The tools used for data collection for the study comprised observation schedules, interview schedules and assessment test. The informants in the study were Anganwadi workers, primary school teachers and parents. Besides, Anganwadi centers were observed along with activities of the children at such centers. The validity (credibility) and reliability (dependability) of the tools and the data were established through piloting. The data collection was done by the field investigators personally visiting to all the Anganwadi centers, Schools, Teachers, Parents selected for the study from 3 blocks of Koraput district of Odisha . Interviews were conducted with teachers, parents and Anganwadi workers through pre-developed schedules. Anganwadi centers and the activities were observed with the help of observation schedules. School readiness of the children was assessed through the reading readiness assessment test and scores were marked for each domain on the basis of the performance of the children. The data collected through the tools such as observation schedules, interview schedules and readiness assessment test pertaining to the objectives of the study were analysed quantitatively by using percentage analysis
technique as well as qualitatively with thick description.
Enrolment of ST Children in ECCE Centres under Study
Enrolment trend presents a very good picture with regard to the enrolment position of ST and girl children. The enrolment position of ST children is around 70% of total enrolment in the past five years. In the year 2013 -14 & 2014-15 the girls enrolment was 53 % in both the admission sessions where as the boys enrolment was 49 % and 48 % respectively. The number of children with special needs record shows 0-2 in the past five years. However the number of children with special needs in the locale is not known to ascertain whether they remain out of school. This needs further investigation. Children with special needs among the tribal population are observed to be the lowest in the age group of 5-49 compared to other social groups (Census 2011).
Infrastructural Facilities at the Pre-School
- There are 64% of the centres functioning in the rooms provided in the schools. Only one centre is running in the own building of the centre. The rest of the centres are functioning in the corridor of a community Members house, Rooms provided by the Community Members and corridor of the school (11% each).
- Around 86% of the centres have easy access to road and connected well to the main roads and it is easy and safe for the children. Only one centre has difficulty for children to access and 3 centres are unsafe for small children with regard to access.
- Two AWCs have more than 2 rooms for play activities of the children and 89% of AWCs have 1 room for the play of the children. In 32 % of centres where clean drinking water facilities are not available in the centre for the children. Regarding the sources of drinking water 85 % of centres provide water to the children from public tap where as 2% of centres use the water from hand pump as well as common well for the drinking of children.
- There are 68% of Anganwadi centres where toilets are not available for the children. Out of the available toilets of the centres 34 % of toilets are not functional and not clean and hygienic for the children. This finding paints a grim picture as toilet facilities are necessary for maintaining healthy habit and this has to be developed in the young age. If these facilities are not available children grow up believing that it is alright to use the open space for that purpose and develop that habit. Authorities have to consider this as major lapse in the programme and take immediate corrective steps to facilitate the formation of healthy habit in the young age.
- For the all-round development during the growing age, play occupies an important place in the daily routine of the small children. In all the centres where the outdoor equipments like swings, slides, sea-saw and water play are not available for the children. Only Rubber rings and balls are available in 78 and 71 percentages of the centres respectively. Gross motor development precedes the fine motor development which is one of the readiness skills. If outdoor play equipments are not provided, it is affecting the child’s natural development process. Neither we allow them to be in their natural environment where they climb trees and swing in branches nor provide such a situation in the pre-school centres. In a way we are curbing or creating a hurdle in their natural motor development.
- In half of the sampled centres children sit in the mat where as in the rest 50% of the centres do not have even mat for the children. With regard to the toys and pictures 23% of centres have that facility for the children, out of that again 9 % of the centres don’t use pictures for the children. Similarly 71% of centres have flash cards and masks out of that 25% of centres don’t use flash cards and 70 % of them don’t use masks for the children in the classroom. With regard to Carom Board and Musical instruments 85% of centres don’t have this equipment in the centres. TV and Videos are not available in any of the centres studied under this project..
- 96% of the centres don’t have first aid kit as well as height measuring scale, though both these equipments are highly necessary for the pre-school children. Children with special needs are found to be very less in the centres (1 and 2 per 500 to 600 children). It is not investigated further to know whether they are not admitted to AWs, or their number is less in the region. As per census 2011, children with special needs among the tribal population are lowest in the age group of 5-19 compared to other social groups (Census 2011).
- Toilets, outdoor games are the barest minimum to be provided for young children which is found to be absent in most of the centres. Bare minimum, a mat to sit in the room is also not found in many centres. Absence of greenery is also a cause for concern, as the location of study is a forest belt with several schedule tribes living. As noticed in the study, some of the centres have all the facilities and the same should be available for all the children with minimum facilities.
Findings related to Relevance/ Significance of Pre-School Education
- Pre-school education imparts fundamental concepts in language, arithmetic and environmental science as perceived by half (50%) of the teachers. Nearly half (42.85%) reported that pre-school education makes acquainted with school structure and system so that the children would not feel isolated at primary school or they would not find any difficulty in primary school. Besides, 28.57% of teachers reported that pre-school education aware of daily chores and health hygiene which were treated as basic to healthy children. Only 14.28% of teachers perceived that self-dependency among children were developed through pre-school education.
- The major objective of pre-school being transition from home to school, it is found that AWWs are well aware of their responsibilities.
- All the teachers (100%) perceived pre-school as important for Scheduled Tribe children because language developments like identifying letters, reading, writing them; creation of interest and motivation for school education; removal of fear from going to school; and providing equal opportunity to ST children were the justified reasons.
- Perceptions on usefulness of pre-school education of the parents whose children were getting pre-school education were multi-faceted. Healthy food, getting a chance to learn something, keeping children occupied and out of mischief, developing basic discipline like learn how to sit in a group with other children, get prepared for primary school are the reasons given by many parents.
Findings related to Functioning of Pre-School
- Under physical & motor development indoor activities like, singing and dancing activities for physical & motor development area are conducted as per all the AWWs (93.33%); playing games with toys and playing imaginary games reported by one-tenth of total AWWs; and toy making through clay is negligibly conducted. Outdoor activities, for physical and motor development, like ball and ring game is mostly organised as perceived by 80.00% of Anganwadi workers; organisation of individual & group activities reported by 33.33 %; and only 6.67% of AWWs reported about organisation of indigenous activity in the AWCs.
- Under language development,indoor activities such as picture reading & reciting names of flower, fruits, vegetables, plant, animal & birds and telling story & singing song are organised as perceived by 90 % and 10% of AWWs respectively. Outdoor activities such as field visit and visit to local market are arranged by 70% and 13.33% of AWWs respectively.
- For socio-emotional development, children are familiarized with important offices, and taught how greet elders & fiends as perceived by 43.33% of the AWWs. Besides, the children are taken to local market to know the life style, people, behaviours, culture as perceived by three-fourth of AWWs.
- Playing with clay is negligibly organised. Outdoor activities include making home with sand perceived by 40%, and craftwork is organised as perceived by 16.67% of AWWs. Playing with clay, sand and involving in other craft related activities are useful during early childhood period. It is crucial in sensory motor development which leads to higher cognitive development. Experiences in such outdoor activities have to be given greater importance for children from tribal community as they naturally live close to nature. As a beginning stage into school, it is necessary to conducted context specific games but it is observed that such activities are organised by least number of centres.
- The sources of play materials which used for activity session in Anganwadi centres are self-made, and provided by organisation as reported by 40% and 70% of AWWs receptively. Some play materials are collected by teachers perceived by 23.33% of AWWs.
- Age-wise conduction of activities were organised sometime as reported by half of AWWs. One-fourth of AWWs reported that activities were organised age-wise. Even activities were not conducted referred to age of children as reported by one-fourth of AWWs. Learning materials were used on the basis of interest of some children as
reported by 56.66% of AWWs.
- AWWs plan on daily basis for their activities as reported by almost all the AWWs.
- Community support / parental support to run the AWCs is mainly through people in the surrounding as reported by 60% of AWWs. Material support from the community/parents is negligible which was reported by only 3.33% of AWWs. Material support from the community/parents is negligible which was reported by only 3.33% of AWWS. Financial support is not received by the community and it is justifiable knowing the background of people living in the location. The fact that people are involving in the programme itself is encouraging, and that is the main support expected from the community towards education of its children.
- Out of 30 Anganwadi centres under study, 2 centres are having children with disabilities one each. One is of speech impairment & other is of intellectual disability. However, it was found that they were very irregular in terms of attendance. When they came for school the other children were reluctant to mingle and on the contrary they were laughed at. It was difficult to manage the child with intellectual disability in the
class. They could not be given the test on school readiness. As revealed from the findings, AWWs paid more attention so that child would get conducive environment to built rapport with other children. Still it is noticed that they do not attend the centre regularly. Community awareness and parental education have to be undertaken to develop sensitivity towards the importance of education and provisions available for them in schools to support their education.
- Dramatization approach was followed to teach simple to complex concept and the activities such as collection specimens like flower, plant etc. were organised. They prepared learning materials from coconut waste, bamboo & ice-cream stick for the purpose. For creating awareness for health & hygiene, play-method was adopted by using mobile for song and dance.
- The efficiency as reported on organisation of different curricular activities in a rating scale, is observed to be very efficiently by 10%, efficiently by 30%, somewhat efficiently by 40% and not very efficiently by 20% of AWWs. It was evident that the AWWs were efficiently organising the activities. They were handling the children very sensitively and somewhat sensitively as reported by half of the AWWs .Besides, only 10% reported as not very sensitively. However it is crucial to note here that handling children at this stage has an impact in their future development. So it would be necessary to provide certain guidance on importance and ways of dealing with situation appropriately.
- Almost all (96.42%) the teachers reported that there was strong linkage of school education with pre-school education. They celebrate independence & republic day together, some administrative supports were provided during admission of children in pre-school centres. In some cases, AWCs and primary schools function in same building. AWWS visit primary schools for academic and non-academic assistance. This indicates a strong linkage between school and preschool.
- Attendance of pre-school children is taken and maintained on daily basis as per 81.57% of parents. As per majority of parents the quality of food provided to the children was good (84.21%) and some parents (13.15% ) reported as food given is not good.
- The activities performed by pre-school children such as eating food and playing games is undertaken regularly as reported by all the parents. Children were singing and reciting rhymes, songs and poems reported by half of the parents (47.36%); listening to stories reported by 55.26% of parents; playing with toys/puzzles/beads available at the centre reported by 36.84% of parents; Writes/works on worksheets and Learns to read and write reported by one-fourth of parents.
- More than 90% of parents reported that health check-up was done. Only one parent reported as health check up was not done. Two parents were not aware of such
- One-fourth of teachers reported as very few children were happy in AWCs. Forty percent of teachers reported some children were happy; 32.14% of teachers reported most of the children were happy in AWCs. Regarding neatness of children, 35.71% of teachers reported some children had learnt neatness; same percentage of teachers reported most of the children learnt neatness; 17.85% of teachers reported very few
children were found to be neat.
- They were enjoying in doing all these activities for the children as reported 85% in mostly and somewhat. It was found that AWWs did enjoy while organize the activities. The response to the question ‘Was the worker attending to all children?’ was reported through observation that a mixed status of attending to the children in
Anganwadicentres. Equal percentage (28.57%) of AWWs were attending AWWs were attending ‘Only 1 or 2’ , ‘A few children’ , and ‘all children’. Besides, it was olaos observed 14.28% AWWs were not attending to all children. It was evident from the above AWWs taking care of the children for their neatness, happiness and academic development. It is evident from the above that majority of AWWs are taking care of the children for their neatness, happiness and academic development. Though negligible, there are some centers where this factor is missing which has to be probed further to bring in the best from the young children attending preschool. This needs to be investigated further to see if it can be improved as per the need of
- Timetable was available and activities were conducted as per the time table prepared for the centre as observed in 78.57% of cases. Timetable was neither available nor the activities were conducted on the basis of any schedule in 21.43% of cases. The basic displays to be maintained like timetable and activity chart were also not found in all the centres observed. Picture charts and other relevant displays materials are very essential for development of reading readiness. It is to be ensured that all centres do these minimum to create a climate of learning without any reason. Besides, it was observed some kind of displays on the walls in the centres such as art, picture, habits, and cultural content to create a homely and cultural responsive environment is present in only half of the samples taken. Such displays were installed at the eye-level of children in fifty percent of the centres; and were mainly the works done by the children. In rest of the centres such activities were not observed. Issues and Challenges of Pre-School Education as perceived by the Parents and AWWs.
- From among the total parents, only 13.15% parents reported on irregularity of AWW as a cause. The child lacked interest to go AWCs as reported by 5.26% of parents. Only 2.65% reported as quality of Anganwadi education was not good. Three causes, mainly, were identified such as regularity of AWWs, interest aspect of the child and quality of Anganwadi education. Regularity of AWW is seen to be the reason as per many parents for not sending their children to the centre. It is to be reminded here that in rural areas as both parents go out to work, they look for the AWW to take the child to the centre daily which is a immense responsibility. As per the response of the AWW the absence is due to official visits to collect materials, attend meetings and related issues. It has to be taken into account that AWW during the working time should not be disturbed for other responsibilities which may hamper the child’s attending to the centre regularly which in turn is seen as a major deterrent to enrolment/premature dropout from elementary stage of education.
- Distance of AWCs from the residence was within 1 km as reported by 56.66% of AWWs. One-third of AWWs reported the distance as more than 3 km, 10% as 2-3 km. Distance is an issue for facing difficulties in coming to AWCs. Although, more than fifty percent AWWs were staying within 1 km from centres. Other difficulties as reported by AWWs as were additional responsibility assigned to them from time to time and transportation problem faced in coming to centre.
- Irregular attendance of children was the main problem as reported by 33.33% AWWs. Language barrier, lack of encouragement for them, additional responsibility other than scheduled and lack of resources in the centre were reported by 23.33%, 20%, 13.33% and 10% of AWWs respectively. Other factors such as personal problem, accessibility to the centre were also reported by nearly 5% AWWs. Other difficulties as reported by AWWs as were additional responsibility assigned to them from time to time and transportation problem faced in coming to centre. The findings form table 4.23 and 4.24 clearly gives direction to the authorities to make small changes in their routine so that this huge challenge could be addressed easily. It is to be taken to cognisance that irregularity to preschool centre is an issue which may continue to the cycle of elementary education which may be a huge barrier to reach the goal of Universalisation of Elementary Education. Effort has to be concentrated from all the agencies working towards this direction at this level itself through community awareness and building confidence among parents regarding the system of education.
School Readiness of Children.
- Maximum number of children, up to 67.5% have performed at an average level and almost equal number, around 16% of children fall both under above average and below average category. This suggests that 86% of children are prepared for school as per the items measured in the test used in the present study. The remaining 16% of children will have to be observed for specific skills to be developed before leaving preschool centre. The scores were further grouped under language, arithmetic and environment related items and it is seen that language related and environment related tasks are performed better by the students and arithmetic related tasks are found to be difficult for maximum number of children. But the distribution in average, above and below average scores of children on arithmetic related tasks are showing an unusual trend with maximum children showing above average performance followed by below average and few children showing average performance. This needs to be investigated further to ascertain the cause for this kind of a distribution.
- The scores were further grouped under language, arithmetic and environment related and it is seen that language related and environment related tasks are performed better by the students and arithmetic related tasks are found to be difficult for maximum number of children. But the distribution in average, above and below average scores of children on arithmetic related tasks are showing an unusual trend with maximum children showing above average performance followed by below average and few children showing average performance. This needs to be investigated further to ascertain the cause for this kind of a distribution.
- In the language related items, maximum number of children are seen to be performing at below average level in story telling and recitation, which calls for attention of teachers to give more importance to this area in preschool. Story and rhyme is found to be important activities to develop listening and expression skills. Identifying pictures with sound and describing picture along with following instruction are seen to be performed well by manychildren. In the language related items, maximum number of children are seen to be performing at below average level in storytelling and recitation, which calls for attention of teachers to give more importance to this area in preschool. Story and rhyme is found to be important activities to develop listening and expression skills. Identifying pictures with sound and describing picture along with following instruction are seen to be performed well by many children.
- The performance of children under the environment related knowledge is seen to be distributed among all the three categories evenly. As the classification items were for fruits and vegetables, it is shown under environmental science. Spatial items are also related to the surrounding of living and hence it is clubbed under the environmental science. However, these skills are very closely related to arithmetic readiness also. The concept of more and less is seen to be mastered by maximum number of children whereas sequencing is found to be difficult to many children. However, it could be noticed that many children have performed this item at an above average level . The performance of children under the environment related knowledge are seen to be distributed among all the three categories evenly. As the classification items were for fruits and vegetables, it is shown under environmental science. Spatial items are also related to the surrounding of living and hence it is clubbed under the environmental science. However, these skills are very closely related to arithmetic readiness also. As it is found that still many children are seen to be performing at below average level, measures can be taken by the AWCs to include activities which would develop these skills. As mentioned earlier, these are pre requisite skills for arithmetic which is crucial at the elementary stage to be picking up
- From the qualitative analysis it was evident that without any exception all the teachers expressed that there exists difference among children coming to primary school with and without preschool experience.
- All the teachers said children will not have any fear to come to school and they have some exposure into formal schooling and know some games, songs and dance. In addition help seeking behaviour, taking food independently and appropriate behaviour are also were noticed by teachers as readiness acquired due to preschool exposure.
- Based on the response of parents the following categories were made as activities catering to cognitive development, social development and language development.
- All the activities under the three major domains taken in the study to assess school readiness, physical, cognitive and soical were found to be covered in the preschool centres. However, cognitive and social development activities are observed to be given more importance. Some language related activities like writing names is seen to be endorsed by least number of parents. It may be pertinent to mention here that formal reading writing (language) related activities are not coming under the objective of preschool experience.
- All the listed behaviours relating to the school readiness were present among children observed in the preschool centres. But maximum number of children were found to be at the ‘not at all’ category, which indicates that many are yet to pick up the skills. The positive trend is seen with many children exhibiting the expected behaviour ‘almost always’. This suggests that the readiness skills are being picked up and moving towards a fully formed behaviour.
- Without any exception all the teachers expressed that there exists difference among children coming to primary school with and without preschool experience in their readiness. As indicated in the table above, all the teachers said children will not have any fear to come to school and they have some exposure into formal schooling and know some games, songs and dance. In addition help seeking behaviour, taking food independently and appropriate behaviour are also were noticed by teachers as readiness acquired due to
- However, cognitive and social development activities are observed to be given more importance. Some language related activities like writing names is seen to be endorsed by least number of parents. It may be pertinent to mention here that formal reading writing (language) related activities are not coming under the objective of preschool experience. In the earlier analysis of performance of children under the language related items it is noticed that the performance was poorer compared to arithmetic and environment related items in the school readiness assessment test. Thus it can be concluded that activities to develop language competencies are not sufficient in the AWs in the location taken for study.
- Maximum number of children were found to be at the ‘not at all’ category, which indicates that many are yet to pick up the skills. The reason for this may be the time spent observing children for the purpose is limited and the behaviour under focus may not have been exhibited by the child due to lack of opportunity during the period under observation. The positive trend is seen with many children exhibiting the expected behaviour ‘almost always’. This suggests that the readiness skills are being picked up and not fully formed among all the children.
Early childhood care education (ECCE) is a critical input for child development. While in long term perspective, it serves to provide a sound foundation for all round development of the child, it has also proved to be an effective input for primary schooling. For achieving universalization of elementary education the school readiness of children needs to be enhanced. As evident from the study the facilities like out door in ECCE Canters need to be developed. The children face problem in listening probably due to language problems and this need to be addressed. In the language related items, maximum number of children are seen to be performing at below average level in storytelling and recitation, which calls for attention of teachers to give more importance to this area in preschool. Story and rhyme is one of the important activities to develop listening and expression skills. It would be appropriate to collate the local specific games, songs and stories, publish it in audio and video forms and made available in pre-schools as per the language requirement. As found during profiling the District, songs and dances are performed as an indispensable part of all individual and communal functions and festivals of the tribal community of Koraput. They enjoy different forms of singing and dancing all the year round. They observe festivals like Pus Parab and Chait Parab with pomp and ceremony, each for a couple of days. They can be linked to the daily routine of the pre-school in the location. Dance, song and music are a characteristic feature of the tribals. Their inborn talent finds expression in dances and songs like Dhemsa Nacha, Dundunga Nacha, Laga Gita etc. This may well knit into the pre-school education to make it more significant. The tribal life in the region is very colourful with simple forms of enjoyment woven in their daily life. A pre-school has to be a bit of home and culture especially for communities who have a closed life like the tribals. Community resource may be utilised for this purpose, by inviting aged members to sing, dance and prepare materials from the waste resource available abundantly. The ritualistic and ordinary ambience of pre-school will not attract a tribal child. It is high time pre-school in the tribal region become vibrant to reflect the culture of the soil and develop school readiness especially to take up formal education.
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