APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Sesame Workshop will utilize a social enterprise approach to leverage the brand of the Indian adaptation of Sesame Street, Galli Galli Sim Sim (GGSS), and the rich library of digital and print content to improve access to high-quality preschool education through a franchisee model. Moreover, with this approach, Sesame Workshop intends to raise the overall awareness of the importance of Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED), increase investment in preschool education, and influence policies that support ECED in India.
Sesame Workshop's role will be to develop standards for a high-quality preschool and then recruit franchises to open GGSS-branded preschools. Sesame Workshop will provide franchisees with operating standards quality assurance, curriculum, branding, educational materials, and regulation and monitoring, or quality control necessary to run GGSS preschools. Over a ten-year period, Sesame Workshop plans to have over 350 franchisee centers across Tier II and Tier III cities in India, where there is a need for such programming.
The methodology will involve five basic elements of high-quality preschools: 1) Curriculum; 2) Teacher motivation and recognition; 3) Ratio and group size; 4) Infrastructure; and 5) Supervision.
The curriculum will follow the Indian National Centre for Education, Research, and Training (NCERT) National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for preschool education, which is a basis for the existing GGSS materials. Specifically, the curriculum will be for ages three to five and will be activity-based, child-centered, age-appropriate, in the local language, and branded with beloved GGSS characters.
Ongoing teacher training and recognition also will form a key component. Classes will be required to maintain a small child to teacher ratio with no more than 15 children per class. Sesame Workshop will require adherence to guidelines on infrastructure, such as safety standards and parent involvement. Finally, Sesame Workshop will provide oversight and require detailed supervision of franchisee staff and activities.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The proposed start date for this initiative is January 1, 2011. Twenty preschool centers will be launched in the first year, with a phased scale-up to follow over a course of ten years.
Implementation Plan with Deliverables:
January - March 2011
- Hiring/identification of key staff
- Drafting of Terms & Conditions for the Franchisee model
- Designing of branding elements and guidelines
- Curriculum content development
- Finalization of marketing plan
- Hiring of sales team and start of enlistment of franchisees
May - July 2011
- Agreement with franchisee
- Setting up of franchisee center
- Hiring and training of staff
- Marketing for enrollment of children
- Registration and enrollment of children
- Start of first session
- Rolling implementation henceforth to reach the target number of franchisees in each financial year.
The urgent need for high quality Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) in India is evidenced by the current debate over when to require schooling for children. In 2010, India implemented sweeping legislation mandating free and compulsory education for all children ages 6 to 14 years. Despite this advancement, there is not yet any provision for children younger than six years old, which has caused concern and debate. Even if education for young children were required, crucial questions about how and what models of high quality ECED should be used remain unanswered. Critically, as the debate continues, over 100 million children each year, according to the Census of India in 2000, go without high quality early educational inputs that would help prepare them better for school and life.
High quality ECED is an instrument to guarantee children's rights and contributes positively to building a brighter and more stable social, economic, and political future for all. Yet, in India, which has the most populous generation of young children in the world, according to UNICEF in 2009, and the largest government-run preschool program in the world, according to the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), only four in ten eligible children attend preschools, and few of those actually receive high quality educational experiences, according to UNESCO in 2007.
Put together, the lack of national policy on ECED in India, the lack of awareness of the importance of high quality early childhood education and care among parents, the public, and policy makers, and the poor state of existing preschools all contribute to a crisis in education for the country's youngest citizens. It is clear that families value education for their children and are interested in investing in schools when they see the value. Thus, the need and opportunity to raise the status of and provide options for early childhood education in India are great.