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Every Tiny Step Counts: Sesame Workshop India

Priyanka Zutshi

The first six years of a child’s life are the most important years for lifelong learning and development. These are the years during which a child’s ability to grasp and understand concepts is at its strongest. This stage is decisive in the inculcation of skills, values and habits, which are known to last a lifetime. Mounting research, as well as common sense shows how the early experiences of young children affect their future growth and potential. Dr. James Heckman, Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences, 2000, in his ground-breaking paper ‘Fostering Human Capital’ posits that,   Learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins, and continues throughout life. Recent research in psychology and cognition demonstrates how vitally important the early preschool years are for skill formation. Significantly, this is a time when human ability and motivation are shaped by families and non-institutional environments. Early learning begets later learning and early success breeds later success, just as early failure breeds later failure. Success or failure at this stage lays the foundation for success or failure in school, which in turn leads to success or failure in post-school learning.   Globally, there is growing recognition of the criticality and benefits of quality early childhood education. Two recent examples that immediately come to my mind are as follows. The first is President Barack Obama’s espousal of early childhood education within his reformist agenda. He twice described it among his highest priorities during the Presidential debates. And the $10 billion he has pledged for early childhood education amounts to the largest new federal initiative for young children since Head Start began in 1965.   The second was the World Forum on Early Care and Education held at Belfast in June 2009 that I had the privilege to be a part of. This forum saw the coming together of over 600 early childhood professionals from across the globe to discuss issues within early childhood education. I was representing the Sesame Workshop India, an organization spearheading a movement in early childhood education in India through Galli Galli Sim Sim (the local co-production of Sesame Street) targeted at children between ages 2–6 years. Sesame Workshop, through Sesame Street local productions has been making a meaningful difference in the lives of children worldwide by addressing their critical developmental needs. The Workshop develops innovative and engaging educational content delivered in a variety of ways—including television, radio, internet, print materials and community outreach. Community outreach ...

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