The pre-primary education sector in the state, which has so far had free reign to decide on matters like fees, admission, registration, eligibility and training, will soon have to follow a strict set of norms. A committee of experts appointed by the state government is all set to submit its report on a number of matters related to the pre-primary education system.
According to sources, an important recommendation forwarded in the report sets the minimum age for admission to pre-primary educational centres at three-and-a-half years. This is sure to put a halt to the current trend of parents hauling even their two-year-old tots to daycare centres and playgroups. The 14-member committee, under the aegis of the minister of state for school education Prof Fauzia Khan, has drafted the report, which will soon be submitted to the state School Education department, to be forwarded later to the state cabinet.
Refusing to divulge any of the recommendations, Prof Khan said that the committee had conducted a detailed study by inviting suggestions from the four study groups appointed by it. Asked about the expected recommendations on the fee structure, the minister said that the matter was under the ambit of the Fee Regulation Act, which awaits Presidential nod.
But sources in the government revealed that the committee had strongly recommended the lottery system for admission, in order to avoid any malpractices during screening of the students, and to maintain transparency. It had also recommended that priority be given to students from the neighbourhood in which the school was located.
The government may include the pre-primary education sector under the ambit of the Self-finance School Act, a bill which was introduced in the budget session of the state legislature in March this year. The committee, set up in September last year, included government officials, and experts such as Vasant Kalpande, Vrinda Dutt from TISS, Abida Inamdar, Suryakant Kulkarni, Nalini Chhugani of Parisar Asha and MLC Sanjivani Raikar.
The committee was to have discussed matters such as the recognition of pre-primary schools, admission procedure, eligible age for admission, qualification and training of teachers, fee structure, curriculum, teaching methodologies, infrastructure required in schools, assessment and gradation methods, and convergence of schools being under the world bank assisted Integrated Child Development Scheme and those run by the school education department.
The committee, while studying these areas, had to took into consideration provisions made by the Right to Education Act, the Fee Regulation Act, recommendations of the Prof Ram Joshi committee and the Kothari Commission. The committee also studied the pre-primary education systems existing in other states.