The first 'Play to Learn' Summit was successfully organized in Shillong on September 5 highlighting the crucial role of play in young children's overall development.
The Summit was presented by the Government of Meghalaya, Meghalaya Early Childhood Development Mission (MECDM) and Meghalaya Health Systems Strengthening Project (MHSSP) in collaboration with Sesame Workshop India Trust with funding support from SBI Foundation and the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance.
The state of Meghalaya is carrying out an Early Childhood Development Mission (MECDM), which is the first of its kind initiative in the country.
The main goal of the mission is to maximize the lifelong potential of children by providing the key development support required in the critical “early years”: from conception to eight years of age.
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The expected beneficiaries of the mission are caregivers, children between the ages of 0-8 years (including those with disabilities), pregnant women and lactating mothers.
The Mission will convert all Anganwadi Centers into ECD Centers to provide comprehensive support to children, including nutrition, cognitive development, socio-emotional learning, and the foundational development they will need to succeed later in school and in life.
Additionally, there is a significant focus on community-based and home-based ECD activities. For instance, women’s self-help groups and father’s circles will receive training so that they can act as support groups to caregivers and can coach caregivers on simple activities they can do at home to promote the cognitive development and overall well-being of their children.
As part of this initiative, Sesame Workshop India, with support from the MHSSP, is providing technical and implementation support to the ECD Mission in designing and developing an integrated ECD model to improve outcomes as envisaged in the state’s ECD mission. Sesame Workshop India is a global leader and innovator in play-based pedagogy as an effective approach to teaching and learning, with a strong track record of impact on caregivers and children in India and all over the world.
In a video message to the organizers of the summit, Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya gave an inspiring oration in which he said, "I firmly believe in the importance of play in early childhood education. The Meghalaya Early Childhood Development Mission is dedicated to nurturing a child's holistic growth during their formative years." He emphasized the incorporation of evidence-based methods such as positive parenting and joyful learning, complemented by enhanced nutrition and cognitive stimulation.
Sangma further highlighted the synergy of government initiatives, all with the common aim of propelling Meghalaya to the ranks of the country's top 10 states. He called upon all stakeholders to adopt a mission-oriented approach in the implementation of the ECD Mission, viewing it as the cornerstone for shaping the future of the state through its youngest citizens.
Paul Lyngdoh, the Minister in charge of Social Welfare, Government of Meghalaya said, "As we gather here today at the 'Play to Learn' Summit, it is heartening to witness the collaborative efforts of Meghalaya Early Childhood Development Mission, Sesame Workshop India Trust, and our esteemed partners. Play is meaningful; it's a pathway to nurturing young minds and building a brighter future for Meghalaya."
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