Move to benefit 158.7 million kids

The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared a proposal for regulating and monitoring the quality of care and education provided to children at play schools and crèches across the country.

The move is expected to directly benefit 158.7 million children who are under the age of six.

The Cabinet approved the draft policy of the National Early Childhood Care and Education (NECCE) for setting up of 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.

Council

“A national Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) council will be created to implement and monitor the policy within three months of its notification. State ECCE councils will also be formed. National Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards would be developed within six months of notification of the policy and circulated to the States/Union Territories (UT) for preparation of action plans and implementation by the States /UTs. The Ministry of Women and Child Development will be delegated the power to make necessary changes,” the Women and Child Development Ministry said.

The approved policy also specifies the minimum qualification required to be teachers at such centres, which will now have to be registered with the government under this policy.

Critical years

“The first six years of life are critical years since the rate of development in these years is more rapid than at any other stage of development. In the early years development is influenced not only by health, nutrition and quality of care but also by the quality of stimulation and early learning experiences provided to the child. Thus, ECCE provides an important foundation for later learning, and is an integral part of life-long learning,” said a senior official of the WCD Ministry.

Rapid increase

The official said India has seen a rapid increase in the number of nurseries, kindergartens, day care centres etc.

These are operated by service providers that give or claim to give services falling in the ambit of ECCE.

“These service providers remain unorganised, without any ground rules or regulations. To address these issues, a need has arisen for framing a comprehensive policy coupled with appropriate institutional mechanisms, systems and structures for qualitative improvement in ECCE,” the official added.