With an objective of bringing inclusiveness and uniformity in all private educational institutions imparting pre-school education and prevent violation of child rights against children in the age group 3-6, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), based on the National ECCE Policy 2013, has developed a regulatory guideline for private play schools.
As per the Article 45 of the 86th Constitutional Amendment, it recognises the crucial role of quality pre-school education. The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
Consequently, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 recommends, “With a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years, the appropriate government shall make necessary arrangement for providing free pre-school education for such children.”
Presently, the aforesaid provision is being implemented and fulfilled by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) through ECCE, ensuring the right of children to pre-school education. Reaffirming the commitment towards the right of children to care, nutrition, health and education in early childhood, MWCD introduced National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy in 2013.
The WCD ministry had introduced the National Policy to monitor pre-school education that is being provided in educational institutions under different names such as play schools, pre-schools, nursery schools etc. In India, the ECCE services are delivered through public, private and non-governmental organisations. Government-run Anganwadis under ICDs and Rajiv Gandhi National Scheme for Working Women provide the Early Childhood Education (ECE) to millions of children under the age group 3-6. Pre-school education is also the fourth goal under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is to ‘ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.’
The aim of the guidelines framed and recommended by NCPCR is to remove ambiguity in such private educational institutions in India and achieve national as well as international commitment of pre-school education. The guidelines have been submitted to Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), State Departments of WCD, NIPCCD, Chief Secretaries of all States/UTs and all State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights.
On the other hand, with questionable quality of service at pre-schools that cater to children under six years and run by Anganwadi centers as well as private agencies, the Union Women and Child Development ministry is considering a policy framework to regulate the standard of such facilities. For the same, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has already readied the guidelines and put it in public domain for feedback – as told by Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi.