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Panels take a look at right age for pre-school

Any informal education before a child reaches the age of three-and-a-half years could be considered illegal.

Written by Aaditi Jathar | Pune |
May 13, 2009 11:12:23 pm

Any informal education before a child reaches the age of three-and-a-half years could be considered illegal. This will hold good if the state government approves the recommendation forwarded by a panel of educationists,representatives of pre-schools and activists that met in Pune on Monday. This is one of the eight panels that are set to meet across the state by May 15.

“Pre-school education will begin from junior KG between three-and-a-half years and four-and-a-half years and senior KG a year thereafter. Children less than three-and-a-half years should not be admitted in schools at all,” said the recommendation that has been forwarded to the state education department.

Around 50 pre-school representatives from Pune,Ahmednagar and Solapur and educationists were party to this recommendation. It also got a nod from government education officers on Tuesday. The state government will hold similar meetings at eight divisional hubs — Aurangabad,Nasik,Latur,Kolhapur,Amravati,Pune,Mumbai and Nagpur — till May 15 after which the recommendations will be sent to the state. There are at least 90,000 such schools functioning.

Educationists feel that sending a child to school right from two-and-a-half years is inhuman. “A child should not be forced to socialise unless he/ she is ready for it,” said Madhuri Deshpande,who runs Ankur Vidyamandir and was part of the Ram Joshi Committee and Ramesh Panse,educationist and founder of Gram Mangal. However,not everyone agrees with this recommendation.

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“The recommendation is unfair considering that children live in nuclear families and are not used to socialising and sharing,” said Vidya Satalkar,principal Abhinav pre-primary Marathi medium School.

“Children must be given informal,non-academic exposure as the age between two-and-a-half years and three-and-a-half years is very critical. Children grasp better if they are exposed early,” she said. Satalkar termed the proposal as unfair to the children and their mothers who go for work and have no one to look after the children.

Umesh Deshmukh of Lokmanya Tarun Kreeda Sanskritik Mandal,Jamkhed,said it was a welcome initiative from the government. “They have given us an opportunity to voice our opinions and problems faced by people who run balwadis in rural areas,” he said.

Dilip Gogate,former education director,G K Mhamane,deputy director,Pune region,D M Patil,deputy director (primary education),Prakash Parab,zilla parishad education officer and Sudhakar Tambe,PMC education officer,were among those who attended the meeting.

A core committee of Ramesh Panse,educationist and founder trustee of Gram Mangal,Madhuri Deshpande,Anupama Desai,Vidya Waje and Sanjay Gandhi finalised the recommendations.

Recommendations
* Government must only register pre-schools,not recognise them.
* At least 20 sq ft space per student and 75 sq ft open space in a pre-school.
* Parents must not be interviewed,instead random method of selection.
* Teachers in pre-schools must have completed one-year course in pre-school education after HSC.
* Fee structure must be total expenditure divided by number of students plus 15 per cent.

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