Even as the Central Government began taking tentative steps towards regulating playschools and crèches, the State Government has already launched a crackdown on such institutions lacking adequate infrastructure and safety measures. While so far, the Tamil Nadu Department of School Education was enforcing the recognition norms only for the schools with classes I and above, the focus has expanded to playschools also from the current academic year.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Sunday that this action followed concern that thousands of playschools had sprung up across the State and were operating without skilled staff and without any supervision.
The Directorate of Elementary Education officials have already identified several playschools operating in Coimbatore without recognition. They have been issued notices instructing them to seek recognition.
The Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) mandates that schools cannot function without obtaining the recognition. The schools will be checked to ascertain if they had qualified staff like teachers with Montessori training. However, a senior official said that no action was being taken crèches since they were covered by the Department of Social Welfare. The Union Cabinet on Friday had cleared a proposal for regulating the education provided to children at play schools and crèches catering to children less than six years.
The National Early Childhood Care and Education (NECCE) calls for setting up a national council to establish guidelines for standardisation of teaching and learning aids, trained manpower, sanitation and hygiene norms in play schools and day care centres. Welcoming the Central Government’s move, Archana Dange, Head of Operations (Tamil Nadu) for EuroKids, which runs around 60 play schools in Tamil Nadu, said that this would clear much of the ambiguity in this sector.
“Till now, there was no clarity as to which institution must seek recognition. This move will provide some relief. The organised players in preschools sector were already implementing many of the rules being discussed now.” The rules include limiting schooling to under three hours for kids aged three and four besides space requirements, she added. In a case filed by a school in Coimbatore challenging its closure by the Department of school Education, the Madras High Court, in an order passed in June, had stated that as per law, every educational institution, including a pre-primary school, should obtain recognition.