Giving every child a head start: Early Childhood Development in Bihar, India

Community owned centres provide safe, healthy and joyful environments to ensure hopeful futures for pre-primary children. 

By Shubhi Vijay & Lukhimai Linnebank
Edited by Mkaya Carrigan
Photographs by Mansi Midha
10th July 2018

The early childhood years between 0 and 6 are critical for the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language development of young children. Studies have found that the learning capacity and value orientations of children are largely formed by the time they reach the age of formal schooling.

Students participate in activities at an Anganwadi Center in Ishapur, Patna.

AWC Isapur, Patna. Pre-school classrooms provide activities to enable young, agile minds to engage in positive experiences. Joyful learning can be the first step to lifelong learning.

In India, the vast majority of young children are entering primary schools without participating in Early Childhood Development programmes; many lack the right foundations for later learning.

Children participate in classroom activities at the ECD Center in Tarang, Patna.

“I learned how to use play as a medium of quality education. Working together as a class can make a lot happen” – Muneera Parween, Community teacher, Tarang ECD centre

AKF’s work on Early Childhood Development (ECD) in India focuses on improving the learning levels of pre-primary children from poor and marginalised communities. By strengthening existing Anganwadi centres and establishing new community owned ECD centres, young children can learn in a safe, healthy and joyful environment. Here, they are surrounded by warm and responsive interactions.

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AWC Isapur, Patna. Growth monitoring is a critical monthly activity at the centres. Weight for height readings highlight the high nutritional requirements to support a child’s growth and development.

AKF also enhances the capacity of local ECD professionals by facilitating training to ensure that pre-primary children are equipped not only to learn, but to thrive in school.

An Anganwadi training is in progress in Danapur Block, Patna. The training for Anganwadi workers in spread over 6-days.

Danapur, Patna. Anganwadi centre staff are at the frontline for delivering effective early learning. 

AKF is committed to ensuring that parents and caregivers possess the knowledge, skills and confidence to support their children’s overall development from an early age. Affordability and contextual relevance are acutely considered when providing guardians with ECD support strategies.

Maharani Kumari, 6, and her mother, Sita Devi, in their home in Samastipur, Bihar.

Pusa, Samastipur. Parents are a part of management committees, where they are encouraged to take ownership of their child’s education journey by supporting the Anganwadi workers.

For over 30 years, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has worked with governments and communities to ensure that young children have a good start in life, especially those living in some of the world’s most remote and marginalised places.

In 2017, AKF’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes benefitted close to 280,000 children ages 0-8 worldwide.

At an Anganwadi Center in Sakra Block, Muzaffarpur.

AKF’s ECD work in Bihar, India is supported by the Rizwan Adatia Foundation.