To become a leading Centre for Early Childhood Development, where Right to Life with Dignity as enshrined in the Constitution of India is buttressed and expanded with psycho-socio-technological knowledge base, utilized to maximize the respect for individuality and unity in diversity, as has been the bulwark of Indian values, while maintaining the world-class standard envisaged in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC).
By integrating multi-disciplinary psycho-socio-pedagogical inputs into an implementable and ever-evolving program, disseminated through this Demonstration and Research Centre for Early Education (DARCEE), it is aimed to achieve the following:
- The individuality of the child is given paramount importance while the child’s performance is analyzed to help in the developmental process. (Comparison among the children is construed a psychological abuse).
- Development of spirit of inquiry, scientific temper, humanism and reform.
- Help children acquire cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills through discovery learning and play-way methods.
- Interest, likes and dislikes of the child are used to ensure the DARCEE exposure and experience the most memorable one.
- Parents’ training on child rights as well as counseling for new parents through integrated departmental support to have a greater impact for development.
- Androgyny, secularism and inclusiveness as a matter of empathy are inculcated.
- Communication competence through effective use of mother-tongue with immersive English for meeting the current ethos.
- The child is to attain physical, mental and social well-being as defined by World Health Organization (WHO).
Uniqueness of the Teaching-learning Process in DARCEE
- Child-initiated active learning through free and structured play situations is encouraged.
- Competence-based techniques of assessment of children have been developed and are being used instead of the traditional examination methods.
- Possibly the only pre-school without uniform, school bags, homework and other unnecessary stress which violates a child ‘s right to a childhood of freedom and laughter.
- Utilising the parents’ and grandparents’ time to help the children get more adult attention and bring the family closer in the days of nuclear families.
- Utilizing the help of social agencies to develop social competence.
- Right to protection is emphasized in awareness about good touch and bad touch and the drill to seek help from agencies such as Childline (1098) and other adults whom they trust.
- Right to participation is encouraged through children’s participation in decision making.
- The mother tongue of the child is accepted as his/her first language which serves the medium of instruction and communication in the Preschool.
The Model Preschool, established in 1980, has developed and become the DARCEE (Demonstration and Research Centre for Early Education) with multifarious programmes and activities. The DARCEE has contributed significantly to the academic and social life. Its contributions are recognized and appreciated by the community. The UGC had supported the project with funds for the construction of the DARCEE building, and with posts of three teachers.
The DARCEE has functioned to fulfill its objectives of serving as a preschool with a difference where children are provided the support while serving as the application part for different theoretical standpoint of the child development process taught in the thrust area of the CAS in Psychology. Over and above that, the societal role played by the CAS in Psychology is clearly appreciated by the parents of the children of the university employees and the neighboring community by providing a child-friendly and stimulating environment and joyful learning experiences to Preschool children for their all-round development. Children of the Model Preschool have distinguished themselves in their later academic career and excelled in various fields.
On the strength of the experience and other related research in the thrust areas, several Preschool Teacher Training Workshops have been conducted. The Preschool and Elementary Teachers of the DAV Schools of Bhubaneswar, the Non-formal preschool Teachers of CYSD (a leading NGO of Orissa), and ICDS supervisors of the state have been trained. Parent education workshops have helped parents gain knowledge of effective child-rearing and socialization practices so that they can act as effective social and educational change agents for their children and community. There is a very strong need to have a permanent Resource Center on early childhood development, care and education to meet the needs in all those dimensions starting from community level adaptation of approach and teaching material to testing some of the fundamental assumptions of child development. The dissemination of information in the established ways of publication of guidebooks, booklets and leaflets for parents and teachers cannot be overemphasized.
The ‘Demonstration and Research Centre for Early Education’ (DARCEE) of the Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology (CASP) was inaugurated by the then Governor of Orissa and Chancellor of Utkal University, Hon. Sri S.N. Reddy, in 1994. The DARCEE incorporates and integrates the following research, training, and counseling programmes and community-oriented extension services of the CASP.
The Psychological and Educational Counseling Centre for Children (PECCC) was inaugurated by Prof. Satish Chandra, the then Chairman of U.G.C. in April 1979, the International Year of the Child. The PECCC provides psychological, educational, curricular, testing, and counselling services to children, parents, teachers, researchers, and institutions; individually as well as in small groups.
The Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology (CASP) was tied up, first with University of Birmingham and then with the Institute of Education, University of London, under the Indo-British Universities Collaboration Programme from 1978 to 1982. In addition to exchange visits of the faculties, the CASP received grants of books, educational toys and learning kits by the British Council.
These educational toys and learning kits donated by the British Council served as the basic materials for starting the Model Preschool. In 1980, the CASP sent a proposal to the Syndicate of Utkal University to start an experimental early childhood development and education laboratory cum nursery school. The Syndicate permitted the CASP to start the school, without any financial commitment. Thus, the Model Preschool was started in August, 1980 with contributions of parents’ donations made by some individuals, and CASP’s research contingency funds. The founding objectives of the Model Preschool were:
- to serve as an action- research oriented experimental laboratory-cum-demonstration centre in early childhood development and education for the M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. students,
- to start an ongoing research project aimed at integrating and applying the existing and available scientific knowledge from psychology, education, and other disciplines to foster and nurture the growth and development of children through an integrated model curriculum based on the Indian socio-cultural context,
- to develop a Model preschool curriculum incorporating the ideas proposed by Montessori, Gandhi, Aurobindo, Piaget, Skinner, Brunner, and Rogers,
- to develop compensatory early education programmes for the disadvantaged preschool children and children with learning problems, using environmental enrichment, child-initiated active learning through free or structured play situations, and cognitive training to schooled and unschooled children, and
- to train teachers and educate parents to use scientific techniques of early childhood education and care.
The Model Preschool started with 35 three to four year old children, two teachers, and one child care attendant. A third teacher was appointed later. At present there are 60 Children aged between 3 to 5 years, many belonging to disadvantaged family backgrounds. The mother tongue of the child is accepted as his/her first language which serves the medium of instruction and communication in the Preschool. The children in the school are grouped and regrouped throughout the year, not on the basis of age but on the basis of their intellectual and behavioural levels of functioning. Competence-based techniques of assessment of children have been developed and are being used in the Model Preschool instead of the traditional examination methods.
In its infancy the school acquired reputation among the people in the locality and gathered a lot of acclamations by the experts. The Model preschool has earned its name and attained its founding objectives. Our M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D., and D.Litt. students who have conducted their dissertation researches on the children of the Model Preschool have invariable found that the Model Preschool of the CASP is qualitatively different from most other preschools of the city.
In 1983-84, the CASP submitted a plan to the U.G.C. to start the Remedial School as an innovative experimental unit with a view to develop collaboration with other similar foreign institutions. The U.G.C sanctioned the Remedial school, with three permanent posts of teachers and funds for construction of school building, the University recognized the Remedial school in 1985, and subsequently it received concurrence of the Government in 1986.
So far, the Remedial School has been helping specific individual cases of children showing hyperactivity, speech and language problems, behaviour problems, and learning difficulties. A number of research projects have been undertaken to develop training activities, materials and methods for perceptual-motor, language, cognitive, and creativity training.
Sufficient materials and experience have enabled the DARCEE to plan and prepare to start a regular Remedial Primary School from for the academically weak or slow-learning children of Grades 1 through 5. This new school will solicit the active participation and cooperation of parents and teachers of nearby Primary Schools.
A number of M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D. and D.Litt. students of psychology, education and home science have conducted their dissertations covering the following areas:
(a) Early childhood care, development, assessment, and education;
(b) Home environment, parenting/ child-rearing, and parent-child relationships;
(c) Impact of preschooling on cognitive development and academic achievements in primary school grades;
(d) Compensatory and remedial education programmes for the disadvantaged preschool and primary school children and children with learning problems;
(e) Intervention research using environmental enrichment, child-initiated active learning through free or structured play situations, and cognitive training to schooled and unschooled children; and
(f) Development of developmental assessment scales and measures of cognitive, affective/ socio-emotional, and academic competencies of children.
The Model Preschool’s curriculum has been accepted both by the SCERT and the NCERT, and is also being used by voluntary organisations (NGOs) working in rural and tribal areas of the state. Since 1980, research work has been continuing on development of a Model Preschool Curriculum, which has been presented in a D.Litt. Thesis in Education submitted in 1997.
The Model Preschool has organised a number of training programmes for the teachers preschools/ nursery schools on early childhood care, development, and education. A three day workshop on “Preparation of Low Cost Educational Toys for Preschool Children” was organized on 16th November, 1991. The primary objective of this workshop was to provide training in utilisation, improvisation, and preparation of low-cost educational toys and learning materials suitable for preschool programmes in the Indian context in order to promote optimal cognitive, linguistic, socio-emotional and physical-motor development of a child. Ten teachers from different preschools in Bhubaneswar participated in this workshop.
Another training programme for the Anganwadi Supervisors and Workers of the District of Balangir, Orissa was conducted from April 22-26, 1996 by the DARCEE. The programme was funded by the UNICEF. The objectives of the programme were: to acquaint the participants with important milestones of development and to train them to make the learning experiences joyful for the children. Fifty participants underwent both theory and practicum classes over the five day period.
Since 1996 the CASP has been running an one-year Diploma in Early Childhood Education (DECE) with the approval of the University. The main objective is to train fresh graduates, specifically of the Psychology/ Education/ Home science subjects as well as teachers of Nursery/ Kindergarten/ Pre-school/ Primary schools, ICDS (Anganwadi) workers, Social workers working with NGO’s and parents who intend to learn about home-based edu-care for preschool children. This programme discontinued due to shortage of manpower from 2008.
The Model Preschool’s teachers and the faculty members of the CASP are invited as resource persons for the training of preschool teachers/ workers of Balwadis, Creches, and ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) Anganwadi workers of Orissa. The DARCEE has acquired a large collection of educational toys and teaching-learning aids. The DARCEE has a colour T.V. and is in the process of getting connected with a cable network. New toys and books on early childhood development, care, and education are added to the existing stock continually. The DARCEE is utilised as a demonstration centre for students of College of Home Science, O.U.A.T. and of various teacher training centres and Anganwadi workers’ training centres.
A workshop on “Development of Children’s Literature for Preschool Curriculum in Oriya and English” was organized in January, 1992. The workshop was inaugurated by Prof. R. Rath, the former Head and founder of the CASP. The objectives of the workshop were: (a) to train teachers in selecting/ writing and using appropriate rhymes, poems, songs, and stories for preschool children, (b) to generate awareness for using children’s literature in preschool curriculum. Thirty teachers from different preschools of Bhubaneswar participated in the workshop. The DARCEE has published a small book of poems and rhymes selected from the workshop entitled, “Ama Gita Bahi” in Oriya, for preschool children, to be used by parents and teachers.
A conference of writers of children’s literature was held in October, 1995; organised by the Research Institute of Oriya Children’s Literature (RIOCL) and the DARCEE. About 60 Writers of children’s literature from Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak and Orissa attended this three day conference.
Another workshop on “Stories for Preschoolers” was held in March, 1998. Writers of stories for children, faculty members of the CASP, teachers of the DARCEE and other preschools, and our DECE students attended this two-day workshop. The DARCEE is planning to publish a book of stories in Oriya for preschool children with detail instructions to parents and teachers on storytelling and contributions of stories towards children’s development and education.
Another workshop on “Development of Literary Talents in Children” was held in October, 1998. About 20 children of Classes 6 through 10 attended this workshop. Writers of stories for children and faculty members of the CASP were the resource persons. Follow up observations of selected participants of this workshop are continuing.
Since 1998, the DARCEE-ECE Seminar is being held regularly every week in the DARCEE building on every Saturday between 10.30 A.M. to 1.00 P.M. The Diploma (DECE) students, DARCEE’s teachers, the teachers and researchers of the CASP, and/or invited guest speakers attend these Seminar meetings and present talks, research papers, parent-education lectures on topics relating to early childhood care, development and education. On every second Saturday of the month, the parents of the children of the DARCEE’s Model Preschool attend these Seminar meetings.
A one day seminar was conducted on July 25th, 1992 on “The Role of Parents in Preschool Curriculum” for the parents of the different preschool children of the locality. Approximately 100 parents participated and the discussion was successful. The DARCEE conducts Parents-Teachers Meetings every month, on the second Saturday of the month. Parents ask questions and solicit counselling on development and care of children.
The renaming of DARCEE after the founding father of Department of Psychology, Prof Radhanath Rath, was done on 18 December 2018. Today it is known by the name Radhanath Rath Centre for Early Childhood Education.