Unequal Opportunities in Early Childhood Education in India: A Demand Side Perspective

Faculty/Professorship: Fakultät Humanwissenschaften: Abschlussarbeiten ; Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS)  
Author(s): Ghosh, Saikat
Publisher Information: Bamberg : opus
Year of publication: 2018
Pages: XIV, 250 ; Illustrationen, Karten
Supervisor(s): Roßbach, Hans-Günther ; Spieß, C. Katharina
Language(s): English
Dissertation, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, 2018
DOI: 10.20378/irbo-51393
Licence: German Act on Copyright 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-opus4-513931
Early childhood education is one of the most significant interventions in human life because it is the most critical period when the foundations are laid for life-long development. It is even more important in the context of developing countries where a considerable number of children cannot perform to their full potential due to poor learning environment and existence of different forms of child poverty.
India has one of the world’s largest and universalized early education programme named Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in operation since 1975. Besides, there exist several private early educational provisions, which are relatively recent, in many parts of the country. Available information suggests that about fifty to sixty percent of eligible children have access to early education in India, which means a considerable number of children still denied the access to any early childhood educational experience. Besides, recent trend suggests an increasing preference towards private preschools, even though the public provision i.e. ICDS is there which is free of any financial cost. The demand for early childhood education is endogenous and comes from parents; therefore, a large source of variation in preschool attendance may come from factors related to parents and extended families. Thus, the present study, footed on an empirical analysis, tries to investigate reasons behind the unequal opportunities in early childhood education in India from a demand-side perspective. The aim is to disentangle two interrelated forms of variations in early childhood education: First, to find out, which are the determinants of parental decision of sending (or not sending) children to preschool? Second, for those parents who send their children to preschool, which are the determinants behind the choice of a particular type of preschool?
It has been found that the main reason for sending children to preschool is early education and school readiness. Results reveal that preschool attendance depends mainly on parents’ attitude towards early education, which varies across different socioeconomic groups. Whether parents consider the importance of early education plays a deterministic role in preschool attendance by children. Parents’ educational level has been found to play a deterministic role in this regard, and higher the level of education achieved by parents greater is the probability of their children attended preschool. Besides, unequal opportunity in early childhood education can also be attributed to availability and accessibility of existing early educational provisions up to certain extent. Particularly, the regional variation in supply may play an important role in widening the difference in access to early childhood education. Furthermore, the choice of a type of preschool was mainly grounded on stratification based the socioeconomic status of parents. In general, Anganwadi centers (public preschools) were attended by most of the children and were particularly popular among families from the lower socioeconomic strata. Private preschools, on the other hand, were considered of “better” quality and represented the “status” of socioeconomically better off families. It was also an attractive choice for socioeconomically upward mobile families.
The evidence is clear that the reason behind the unequal opportunity in ECE is multi-layered with several factors; both from demand side as well as supply side can be held responsible. Educational, occupational, and social factors all operate to create differences in preschool attendance, with educational factors appearing to carry the greatest share of the variance. Therefore, policies are clearly needed to increase demand for early childhood education on one hand and ensuring availability and ease in accessibility of it on the other.
GND Keywords: Vorschulerziehung; Frühförderung; Indien; Eltern; Bildungsstatus; Sozialstatus; Bildungsniveau; Bildungsangebot
DDC Classification: 370 Education  
RVK Classification: DV 2320     DK 2009   
Type: Doctoralthesis
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/43349
Year of publication: 7. June 2018