Experts: Separate ministry must for early childhood education

At the fifth International Early Childhood conference, pre-school education experts slam the government for creating a pre-primary education regulatory body without a policy on the quality of education and curriculum

In a survey, it was found that many pre-schools' heads are not even aware of the Early Childhood Care and Education policy. Pic/Nimesh Dave
In a survey, it was found that many pre-schools' heads are not even aware of the Early Childhood Care and Education policy. Pic/Nimesh Dave

A survey conducted by the Early Childhood Association in 350 pre-schools in Mumbai, found that 79% of these schools' heads are unaware of kindergarten curriculum.

Looking at these findings in a panel discussion on 'Should there be a separate ministry for early childhood education' at the fifth International Early Childhood conference, pre-school education experts slammed the government, which is creating a pre-primary education regulatory body, without a policy framed on the quality of education and curriculum. The conference called for several changes in the regulation of pre-school education.

Need a policy
According to the early childhood curriculum framework, a pre-school has to programme its activities so that it helps kids develop their language, cognitive skills, and creativity. "According to our survey in June 2016, we found that despite charging high fees, in Mumbai, around 320 pre-schools are not even aware of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy which frames the childhood curriculum. This is because there is no regulatory body to keep a check on these schools. The upcoming state regulatory will only register the pre-school, but there has to be a policy to check if the teachers in pre-schools are well educated, and kids are being taught up to the entry level of class 1," said Swati Popat Vats, President of Early Childhood Association.

Have separate ministry
Another panelist explained why there should be a separate ministry dealing with the issue. "When 256 million school going children (above 6 years) have a school education ministry; why not one for 165 million children from birth to 6 years, who are currently under the Women and Child Development Ministry? This age group requires budget allocation when it comes specifically to Early Childhood education," said Francis Joseph, education expert.

"There is a need for a regulatory body to check the activities in pre-schools. There are some pre-schools in the city, which teach nothing; even the teaching faculty is uneducated. But they charge us a huge amount in the name of fees," said a parent, Arundhati Chauhan.

79% of 350 surveyed pre-schools unaware of kindergarten curriculum

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