A large number of children enter primary school, with varying levels of preparedness to actually cope with the new school environment. Usually, school readiness is understood, to mean equipping children with a specific set of basic skills and abilities, for example to; follow directions, demonstrate reading, counting and reasoning skills, and carry out independent work by the time they enter school. Further to this however, interventions to promote school readiness and transition shall encompass additional six major dimensions including; children’s physical well-being and motor development, social and emotional development, cognitive/language development, self-help skills and general knowledge.
To support this program, the government will continue to roll-out the one year school readiness programme for 5 and 6 year olds across all districts following the commitment to establish at least one model ECD centre per cell of each sector by end of the year 2017 targeting the entire scope of 0-6 year age groups. Further, to enhance school readiness among young children, a competency-based curriculum for 3-6 year olds has been developed and will be implemented from January 2016. ECD services are offered through center-based ECD, community based home-based, kindergartens, crèches, and other centers. The scale up of ECD services will be predominantly done by implementing agencies and through delivery of integrated health, nutrition, cognitive development, social protection, and hygiene and sanitation services. The implementing agencies will update the services they deliver to meet the minimum standards prescribed by the ECD Policy.
In principle, it should be noted with consensus that effective school readiness program interventions call for; “ready children for ready schools from ready homes”. This means that preparation of children for schooling and transitioning should have equal and reciprocal emphasis by preparing schools to receive them. School preparations entails managing transitions effectively through use of appropriate teaching and learning methodologies, materials and sensitivity to individual learning needs of children. Ready and supportive homes means a supportive family environment that responds proactively to children learning needs, including promoting early literacy at home and stimulating children to acquire higher cognition abilities through provision of requisite age-appropriate play and learning materials administered right from parenting sessions.
It should also be noted that expanding access to appropriate pre-primary school services (for 3- to 6-year-olds) is a key policy priority to enhance children’s readiness to join and cope with primary school environment. A well-conceived preschool education programme can significantly improve primary school readiness and school performance and enhance overall child development. According to research on the subject, it is clear that children who participate in preschool programmes are more likely to have better language, verbal and arithmetic skills, and consistently higher reading and cognitive achievement scores. Such children often get more interested in formal schools upon enrolment into primary school; are more motivated to learn and, to complete assignments and are more likely to have long term academic success.