Education is a vital engine for driving economic growth and the nation’s overall development, and within the framework of education, quality early schooling has a substantial and everlasting impact on a child’s overall development. A strong foundation will certainly transform a child into a productive and empowered citizen of the nation, adding value to human capital. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 target has provided access to quality early education for all and has become the beacon of the Indian education system.
As education is so important for the socio-economic progress of nations and societies, it alleviates poverty, improves health, promotes gender equality, peace and stability. It becomes all the more important to put more than enough emphasis on improving and investing in the education system.
Digging deeper into the statistics to examine the interplay between early education and economic impact, it is found that an investment in adolescent development during one year of primary education will lead to an increase in the individual’s earning potential by 7.02%, i.e., Rs.7696/-. Add to this another seven additional years of education up to Standard XII, which will impact the individual’s income up to 11565/-. An increase of Rs. 4372/- to monthly income due to continuous training up to standard XII will equate to an overall increase of Rs. 52470/- per annum. A child’s eight years of sustained education from grades 5 through 12 will not only benefit a child’s overall growth, but will also have an impact on improving the economic value of their education. The Institute of Competitiveness’ seminal report on literacy and numeracy states that early education is crucial and important as it paves the way for future earning opportunities. This income gain is taken from the period of the first period of education, that is, from the 5th year. The early years (3-18) are the most extraordinary period of growth and development in a child’s life. Research shows that good quality early learning and development (ECD) programs help reduce the risk of dropout, repetition and improve outcomes at all levels of education.
Economic investment in early childhood will also have a substantial impact on the country’s economic growth. According to the calculation of Net Present Value (NPV) which is the present value of the cash flows at the required rate of return of the project on the initial investment when an investment per child of INR 15,696 is made in literacy and numeracy (FLN), it leads to a profit of INR 598537/- for that person over a period of 20 years.
Economic investment in basic learning can have a significant impact on a country’s economic growth. Investing in every child in Basic Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) will result in an overall GDP gain of between US$4 trillion and US$12 trillion compared to India’s GDP over the next 20 years. On the other hand, it also shows that if a child misses basic literacy and numeracy training, the assessed gain of INR 598537/- will not bear fruit and will be lost. Therefore, it becomes relevant to invest in early education for an individual’s development, to ensure valuable human capital returns and to reap economic dividends.
Increased income and completion of secondary education depends on the complete infrastructure in primary schools so that the child achieves a strong FLN that will motivate him to complete secondary education. Dropout rates are mainly due to a lack of solid early education, on top of that, the direct benefits of investing in the FLN, such as improved health, gender equality, and decreased crime and child labour, will undoubtedly benefit the socio-economic growth of our societies and our nation.
The rate of return to education, which is the value of an individual’s average earnings over their lifetime with the cost of their education, and if the rate of return is positive and higher, it makes economic sense to invest in early education. This is a good return on investment that further confirms UNICEF’s statement: “Investing in early childhood development is one of the most cost-effective and powerful strategies for achieving equitable and sustainable development. sustainable.
Research further shows that good quality “early learning and child development programmers” help reduce the risk of dropout, repetition and improve outcomes at all levels of education. The importance of elementary education must therefore not be lost sight of at any cost.
In the whole field of education, the relevance of early education for the child during his first years of learning becomes most critical because it is well known that 90% of the brain of the child is developed at the age of 5, having a lifelong impact. A quality and appropriate education at the fundamental level prepares children for a better understanding of academic subjects later in life and also helps to acquire the wisdom and skills necessary to face the challenges and vagaries of life.
Knowing that the role and importance of the quality of early education cannot be overlooked, it cannot be overstated that the best minds of academics and psychologists should prepare the curriculum accordingly to equip the child adequately for future challenges.
India has the largest population of children in the world, foresight should not be lost sight of. We must capitalize on them by providing rich investments in early education, which will transform them into a huge reservoir of valuable human capital, ready to give impetus to the economic growth and overall development of their nation.
(Amit Kapoor is President of the Institute for Competitiveness and Visiting Fellow, Stanford University; Ashish Jhalani is President, International Markets, Square Panda and Raagini Sharma is Fellow, Institute for Competitiveness, India).
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