Partnership with government of Odisha to improve opportunities for young children

Published March 10, 2016

The Foundation has formally partnered with the government of Odisha, one of India’s 29 states, on two initiatives to improve opportunities for young children.

The first Memorandum of Understanding commits the Foundation to invest 1.5 million euros between 2016 and 2019 to help the state’s Department of Women and Child Development roll out mother tongue-based early childhood education to another 250,000 children in tribal districts of the state. Tribal children often perform more poorly in school because the language of instruction is not the language they speak at home, and pilot interventions have shown that conducting early childhood education in a child’s mother tongue eases the transition to school and improves educational attainment.

Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the Department of Women and Child Development, said:

We believe our partnership would enable young tribal children to experience a holistic development, with opportunities for stimulation and brain development through better early childhood care and education in their mother tongue.

The second Memorandum of Understanding involves work with Bhubaneswar Development Authority to make Bhubaneswar into India’s first child-friendly smart city. The Foundation already worked with Bhubaneswar on its proposal for India’s Smart Cities Mission, which saw it selected in January as one of 20 cities to receive national support. As part of its Urban95 programme, the Foundation is also supporting the National Institute of Urban Affairs to help India urbanise in a more child-friendly way.

Dharitri Patnaik, the Foundation’s Senior Country Representative, said:

This partnership will set an example for other cities to follow as we address the challenges of rapid urbanisation, depleting public infrastructure, social and economic well-being and public health.

The two MoUs were signed at a ceremony attended by Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Foundation’ Executive Director Michael Feigelson. The news was covered in local and national outlets including the Times of India.