The Meghalaya Early Childhood Development Mission (MECDM), State Capability Enhancement Project (SCEP) and ECHO-India organised a transformative two-day Partner Launch training (PLT) aimed at advancing early childhood education in Meghalaya through innovative capacity-building.
ECHO India is a non-profit trust committed to improving the well-being of communities by empowering frontline professionals through capacity-building initiatives.
The PLT focused on unlocking the full potential of the state’s children through the ECHO Model. Participants engaged in expert-led sessions, gaining insights into practical applications for professional development, collaboration and knowledge-sharing within the education sector. District functionaries from the Social Welfare Department as well as Meghalaya State Rural Livelihoods Mission (MSRLS) along with Lady Supervisors, participated in the capacity-building programme.
Principal Secretary & Development Commissioner Sampath Kumar underscored the importance of investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) and expressed eagerness to collaborate with ECHO in the future.
It may be mentioned that the State has already used technology for monitoring and reviews of various human development indicators. Such partnerships like the one with ECO-India can provide an impetus to strengthen the existing capacities. Meghalaya has been able to leverage technology to reduce maternal and child deaths by 50 per cent as well as reduction of SAM and MAM cases in the past, thereby underscoring the need to enhance capabilities to sustain such achievements.
Kumar recommended the introduction of weekly sessions in addition to monthly participation in Anganwadi Centers (AWC). He said, “We need a transformative initiative where Lady Supervisors will convert AWCs into Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres within the next six months. This transformation will involve active engagement with children, nurturing their cognitive abilities, preferably facilitated by the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) from AWCs.”
At the close of the second day workshop, he proposed a strategic outlook, suggesting the goal of establishing 55 hubs corresponding to the existing 55 blocks.
Commissioner and Secretary Social Welfare Department Mr. Pravin Bakshi graced the occasion as the chief guest. Speaking at the inaugural session, he emphasised the role of digital technology.
He stated, “Incorporating digital tools is essential for achieving speed, scale, sustainability and cost-effectiveness in teacher capacity-building initiatives. Digital platforms empower educators to adapt to evolving educational landscapes, ensuring quality learning experiences for young minds.”
He appreciated the demonstrable capabilities of organisations such as ECHO-India and the need to reach out to all levels of stakeholders in a two-way communication.
Director of the Gender Equity India Pilot Project under Project ECHO, Dr. Anuradha Rai underscored the critical nature of teacher capacity building, stating, “Enhancing the skills of educators is paramount for ensuring optimal learning outcomes in early childhood. The Partner Launch Training not only equips teachers but also empowers them to create a nurturing and impactful educational environment.”
She added that ECHO is a low-cost, scalable solution to facilitate the seamless transfer of knowledge from centres of expertise to the community. She also highlighted the 4 pillars of ECHO: Amplification uses technology to leverage scarce resources, Share Best Practices to reduce disparity, Case-Based Learning to master complexity and Web-based data base to monitor outcomes.
Speaking at the session, Ronald Kynta, COO-MECDM gave a brief overview of the Meghalaya ECD mission and said that this is a unique mission aimed at unleashing the potential of children between 0 and 8 years old.
He said that this is a collaborative and cohesive effort of the Social Welfare, Health & Family Welfare, Education and Community and Rural Development Departments.
He gave insight into how the ECHO platform can be used not only for capacity building but also as a team management and project management tool.
It may be mentioned that besides focusing on the Education sector, ECHO India is already actively involved in the health sector, contributing to capacity-building initiatives.