The Regulatory guidelines for private playschools released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Tuesday have thrown up a number of questions instead of making things clearer. According to the guidelines, no child below three years can be admitted to play schools. Three years, however, is the minimum age for admission in nursery level in Delhi and in several other states.
The guidelines also outline rules that play schools will have to follow to be recognised. In Delhi, most children go to play school at the age of two. Parents start queuing up for admission in formal schools before the child turns three, as any child who is three or above in April is eligible for admission in nursery.
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Under the NCPCR guidelines, recognised play schools will only admit children between three and six years. The guidelines also say that fees charged by the play school must be regulated by the government and can only be collected on a monthly or quarterly basis. It also says that the school should not collect any capitation fee at the time of admission, or subject the child or his or her parents or guardians to any screening procedure.
Since most play schools in Delhi will not fall under the ambit of these guidelines, as they do not admit children above the age of three, they will not have to follow these guidelines.
“It looks like an attempt to make sure that these play schools, which are running like profit-making shops, have the freedom to charge any fee they want without answerability. A school that admits children under the age of 3 will not fall under the ambit of the guidelines and is essentially free to do what it likes,” said a teacher of elementary education at Delhi University.
It is not just NGOs that have questioned the move. Many legal experts said the NCPCR does not have the mandate to make such guidelines. “The power to recognise and derecognise lies with the state. These guidelines are in direct conflict with the rules of the Delhi government, which state that nursery admissions begin at the age of three,” said Khagesh Jha, a lawyer who works in the field of education.