Singapore and India Working Together To Achieve Higher Standards of Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Mumbai

A three-year SIF-Muktangan partnership kickstarts a scalable and sustainable collaboration between Singaporean and Indian ECE educators.

From left to right: Guests Shrimati Vinita Ved Singal, Principal Secretary Women & Child Development Department, Mrs Elizabeth Mehta, Founder-Muktangan, Shri. Nand Kumar (I.A.S.), Principal Secretary, School Education & Sports Department, Ms Juthika Ramanathan, Governor, SIF, Ms Jean Tan, Executive Director, SIF and Ms Ms Kannigadevi Ravindran, SIV Team Leader at the official launch.

The Singapore International Foundation, partnering with the Mumbai-based Muktangan, a programme of The Paragon Charitable Trust, launched a three-year partnership on 19th July 2017 to raise the quality of early childhood education in Mumbai. The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Curriculum Enhancement and Pedagogy Project will be led by a team of four Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) who are pioneers in the Singapore ECE sector, working together with their Indian counterparts.

Speaking at the launch, SIF Governor Juthika Ramanathan said both Singapore and India are pursuing a collective goal to ensure that children get access to quality formative education and skills (access full speech here).

Her views were echoed by Mr Nand Kumar Principal Secretary, School Education and Sports Department, Government of Maharashtra. He said, in the past, European countries used to top the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). But lately, Asian countries, particularly Singapore, have been coming up tops. “We too can do it. Our aim is to be ranked in the Top 20 at the Pisa assessments. To achieve this, we need to start with good quality ECE education. This project is a very good building block towards our aim, he shared.”

ECE helps children develop social and cognitive skills during their crucial early years, positively impacting their later learning and growth. Through this project, ECE educators from Singapore will work with their counterparts in Mumbai who teach children between three and eight years old (pre-school, Grades 1 and 2), on curriculum enhancement, pedagogical skills transfer and teacher development.

They will also equip a group of Indian ECE educators with the skills and knowledge as master trainers who will then go on to train other ECE educators in the sector, creating a sustainable positive impact. Over the course of three years, up to 240 Indian ECE educators from Paragon Charitable Trust’s Muktangan schools and other non-profit ECE schools in Mumbai as well 2,400 underprivileged children are expected to benefit from this collaboration. Besides facilitating professional sharing and knowledge transfer between established ECE practitioners in both countries, this project also functions as a scalable model aimed at heralding a long-term positive impact in the ECE sector in the region.

The project also augments the Maharashtra State Government’s efforts to encourage early childhood care and education to better prepare children for future learning. The scalability and sustainable impact of this project is guided by a larger and more important goal of mutual learning between professionals from the two countries.

Ms Kannigadevi Ravindran, SIF Specialist Team Leader, and Capability Support Senior Manager and Special Education Mentor, Presbyterian Community Services shared, “I am looking forward to being able to share my experiences in the ECE sector – through these shared resources and expertise, I believe that we can help grow the ECE sector in Mumbai for the children’s holistic development. Learning happens both ways. I am definitely looking to learn from my Indian counterparts on their approach to ECE and how they overcome challenges.”

Mrs Elizabeth Mehta, Founder of Muktangan, also remarked, “By exploring together and learning from one another we will then be able to provide our young children with the pedagogy that they so rightfully deserve. This will in turn support their growth into caring, confident and thinking adults to face the challenges of our future world.”

The project does not only mark another step closer to Mumbai’s goal of quality early childhood education, it also marks another milestone in the 22-year friendship between the SIF and communities in India to uplift lives and build enduring friendships for a better world. 

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