The pre-primary schools and learning centres in the state will have to ensure a classroom measuring minimum 300 sq ft for a group of 20 children and make available 700 sq ft of outdoor space for sports. Besides,the schools should avoid screening children or parents and abide by the proposed Fee Regulation Act.
These are some of the key recommendations made in the report of the high-power government committee on pre-primary education in the state.
After sitting on it for over a year,the state government recently made the report public for suggestions and objections. Constituted in September 2011,the 21-member committee was headed by Minister of State for School Education Fauziya Khan. The panel had set 65 lakh children between the age of three and six (2011 census) as its target group.
The report has observed mushrooming of pre-primary centres with many of these operating from small rooms,without adequate space for sports and other activities.
The report has highlighted there is no clear-cut criterion on age for pre-primary education,children are being taught syllabus prescribed for Class I and Class II,for which they are neither cognitively nor physically mature,besides unsuitable methods of student assessments .
The report observed that many pre-primary centres expect a child to understand English,which may not be their mother tongue. It also pointed out the presence of untrained or poorly trained teachers in these schools.
The report raises fingers at practices like conducting entrance test by a section of pre-schools for admission and charging fee in arbitrary manner. Among interesting observations,the report outlines that culturally irrelevant traces of Colonialism still exist in the curriculum of these schools.
The 21-member committee,which submitted its report in July last year,has made a range of recommendations pertaining to registration and regulation of pre-primary education. Creation of separate directorate for pre-primary education is among the most important recommendations. The committee has also stressed need for recognition/ registration of all pre-primary educational centres and also the enactment of new law to govern pre-school education.
It has strongly advocated convergence between Integrated Child Development Schemes (ICDS) and pre-primary education. The ICDS is Centres primary social welfare scheme to tackle malnutrition and health problems in children below six years of age and their mothers.
Rural areas suffer from lack of resources,both human and material. This affects the criteria for teacher selection and appointments,curriculum,and pedagogy. Therefore,programmes like ICDS need to be re-evaluated to bring about changes, the report reads.
In its report,the committee has also called for linking pre-primary education with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE),2009. The state advisory council constituted under Section 34 of the RTE Act should advise the government in the matters pertaining to pre-primary education, said the report.
It is difficult to predict exact number of pre-schools in the state as they are not registered formally anywhere. There is a need for proper rules and regulations, said Abeda Inamdar,Vice-President,Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society,who was part of the committee.
State Director of Primary Education Mahaveer Mane said the recommendations of the report would be finalised by the government. There is no specific deadline for submitting public suggestions or objections. But we appeal to submit them by September 15, he said.
Education activist Matin Mujawar said government should also make public rules and regulations for pre-primary education framed in 1996. The report of high-power committee can be read in the light of these rules and regulations, he said.
Mujawar demanded the report,which is available on official the website of State Directorate of Primary education depmah.com in English,must be also be published in Marathi.
When Newsline contacted authorities of several local pre-schools,they expressed ignorance on the report.