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Early childhood education in India: A possible investment in better outcomes? A quantitative analysis using Young Lives India

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Alwani, Sabilah Eboo 


This paper explores the relationship between early childhood education and academic outcomes for children in India by estimating the ability of preschool participation at age 5 to predict results on major cognitive assessments at age 12. Initially looking at differences in means, it moves on to utilise regression analysis first in an uncontrolled model, and then in a model which controls for both gender and maternal education, as these have been deemed important inputs for academic attainment in the wider literature on human capital development. The sample used for this research is constructed from Young Lives (India), which from 2002 to 2017 surveyed two cohorts of children across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with a pro-poor sampling strategy. Surprisingly, the results of the analysis find that participation in early childhood education had a negligible effect on test scores, even when controlling for gender and maternal education. Meanwhile, maternal education emerged as a strong predictor of test results. These findings contradict much of the existing evidence that demonstrates associations between early childhood education and cognitive development, and, in turn, improved economic outcomes. Accordingly, it raises questions about the generalisability of the existing evidence and the quality of India’s ECE offering. The premise, method and findings of this paper are divided into nine sections, including an introduction, an explanation of Human Capital as the paper’s conceptual framework, a literature review, an overview of the context of ECE in India, a section on the paper’s data and variables, a methods section, an overview of the results, a discussion, and conclusions.



Early childhood education, India, Longitudinal research, Academic outcomes, Poverty alleviation

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Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal (CORERJ)

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Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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