The Law Commission of India on August 27, 2015 recommended the Union Minister of Law and Justice to amend the Constitution so as to make sure that education for the children who are below six years of age becomes mandatory and these children are offered protection from all forms of neglect, harm and exploitation.
When the world is busy debating upon the trivial issue i.e. Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals in which one of the issue is guarantee of early childhood development, the Law Commission of India felt that it is the right time to position the rights of young children within the development agenda and create appropriate legal entitlements as per the Early Childhood Development. The commission found Early Childhood Development of very much relevance and importance to undertake its present study namely: ‘Early Childhood Development and Legal Entitlements’.
What is Early Childhood Development?
Early Childhood Development period spans from the time the child takes birth till he/she attains the age of 6 years. It is the period in every child’s life when most rapid growth and development of the entire life span takes place. In this period the foundations of cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development, language and personality are laid. This is the period in which maximum vulnerability as deprivation can seriously impact a child’s health and learning potential.
In a nut shell, the commission is of the opinion that the below mentioned points should be amended keeping in mind the needs of the children who are under 6 years:
- All children of this age group should have the Right to Care and Assistance. Their basic necessities should be fulfilled and they should not suffer from any sort of neglect, harm and exploitation.
- Free and Compulsory education should be offered to all children by the state as per the norms laid down by the law.
- It is also the fundamental duty of parent or guardians to send their children to school so that they receive the elementary education
- The children who are above three years are eligible to receive elementary education and childhood care till they attain the age of 6 years and the respective government should make necessary arrangements to provide free education to such children.
- Keeping in mind, the Maternity Benefit Act, the law commission was of the view that the maternity benefits should be increased from twelve weeks to 180 days.
- It has also been suggested to the government that they should come up with such policies in which the women working in private sectors are also entitled to enjoy maternity leave benefits.
- A statutory authority or Council for Early Childhood Development should be set up so as to make sure that early childhood developments is promoted in the best possible manner.
- The commission is also of the view that teacher recruited to provide pre school education should be given adequate training.
- Every child in the age group of 0-6 years have right to crèche and day care facilities.