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India Invests in Early Education, And We Should Emulate Its Commitment

David Lawrence Jr.

The Miami Herald

Mar 26, 2016

Lawrence, with 2-year-old Tasmiya in an early learning classroom.

NEW DELHI — India makes my point. So do Bangladesh and China and Turkey and Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia.

All have investment in early learning as part of the national agenda. (In recent years I have visited early learning centers in each of these countries. )

While we in these United States are especially blessed to partake of a rich and generous country and to live in full freedom, in some places and in some ways we are not as future-focused as we might think.

The leaders of these other countries know — sometimes better than we do — that their very future depends on investment in early education. They understand that emphasis must begin before birth, concentrating especially on the first several years (85 percent of brain growth occurring by age 3). In my own country, we have too many leaders, elected and otherwise, who don’t “get it” (though to be fair, President Obama does).

I am in the capital of India, a land of stunning contrasts and many civilizations whose heritage goes back thousands of years. A country that will be the world’s largest in population in the next half-dozen years — and that already has four times more people than the United States. A country with pockets of great wealth, a growing middle class and a mountain of impoverished misery. I could find so many reasons to be pessimistic about India’s future, but instead come away more optimistic than when I arrived.

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