Mumbai – After a journey spanning 8 years, with 15 publications, over 692 workshops and touching over 7 lac teachers, the Early Childhood Association (ECA) launched its Association for Primary Education and Research (APER).

“This integration was long overdue,” says Dr. Swati Popat Vats, president of ECA and APER. “The draft National Education Policy 2019 (DNEP) suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards. Hence launching APER is a natural progression. Our goal is to do the same kind of work we did for the early years but now in primary school, from grades 1 to 4 and smoothen the transition from early years to primary years. APER will ensure that all ECA schools, who have built on the development goals and a solid foundation in the early years will get a platform to let their children continue further advocacy for “stress-free childhood years” and continuation of the same in the primary level.”

Office members of APER include well-known educationists such as Farzana Dohadwalla (Vice President), Kusum Kanwar (Secretary), Rekha Shahani (Diplomatic Secretary), Sangeeta Puri (Joint Secretary) and Binaifer Chhoga (Executive Member). The launch of APER was via a panel discussion on “does everything really change overnight for a pre-schooler once she/he enters Grade 1?”

Dr Reeta Sonawat (Executive Director), Dr Kamini Rege (Treasurer) and Asha Verma (Secretary) of the Early Childhood Association joined the panel. Dr Swati Popat Vats moderated the same.

“There is a vast difference between the two curricula. Children in pre-primary are told to play and explore and suddenly everything changes once they step in primary education. They are told to study more than play. One suggestion to better the transition is to let the pre-primary teacher teach the children for at least a week at the start of their primary education. Also, the ground reality is that teachers of pre-primary, and secondary do not work collaboratively,” shared Ms. Usha Varma, Secretary, APER, emphatically.

Dr Reeta Sonawat of the ECA elaborated, ”the world talks the early years! APER goes with the thought that our primary education won’t descend their system instead we will ascend our system from pre-primary to primary education. “

“This period of 3-8 years in the DNEP translates into 3 of early years + 2 of primary education years. The annual status of education report shows that children cannot read or write properly; commensurate to their age. Early child segment is ignored and therefore filled with less qualified, low-cost teachers. If an audit is done periodically, the quality of staff will enhance,” opined Farzana Dohadwalla, Vice President of APER.

The panel agreed that the IB system is superior, in that the accreditation of primary children is done by checking the early years. Also, in the IB boards, the pre-primary and primary teachers have collaborative meetings to better the transition of children. President Swati Popat Vats mooted topics such as ‘license to teachers to teach’ and bringing together all stakeholders such as parents, educators, psychologist, etc. into the betterment of the system.

Association for Primary Education and Research aims to bring together all stakeholders involved in the education of children from 6 to 10 years. Our vision is to work on quality enhancement in primary education (Grades 1 -5) through collaborative action between primary schools, primary school teachers, heads, special educators, doctors, teacher training colleges, parents and publishers. We work to encourage research and reflective study in primary education and want our primary education to be stress-free and have a smooth transition for children from early years to primary years in school. Learning, researching, reflecting and leading is our motto and our goal is to ensure that every primary school teacher in our country gets access to the latest research, training and publications that will help them create classrooms where children learn in a stress-free environment created with the best from local and global education practices.

APER is a body created by the Early Childhood Association to ensure care and education of children from birth to 10 years has a common goal, a smooth transition and ensures life-long success for all children.