Normative development in rural India: ‘school readiness’ and early childhood care and education

Arathi Sriprakash, R. Maithreyi, Akash Kumar, Pallawi Sinha, Ketaki Prabha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Global education agendas frequently draw on the construct of
‘school readiness’, indexing the developmental trajectories of
children to the expectations of school systems. Through in-depth
ethnographic research in a village in Bihar, India, this paper
examines how normative discourses of ‘school readiness’ govern
family strategies for early childhood care and education (ECCE). To
navigate the demandsof a competitive and socially stratified
school system, marginalised families saw it as crucial for their
young children to access multiple forms of educational capital:
written literacy, discipline, and dominant caste-class codes. In the
absence of functioning provision of ECCE by the state, the low-fee
and low-quality private market of early childhood education was
seen as a key site through which ‘school readiness’ could be
secured. The paper illustrates how normative developmentalism in
education, and the ‘hegemonic aspirations’ it enshrines, has
entrenched the marketisation of ECCE and reinscribed forms of
caste-class domination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-348
Number of pages18
JournalComparative Education
Early online date13 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

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Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education


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