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Need to accommodate 60 lakh children in 14 lakh Balvatikas, Anganwadis across the country: School Education Secretary 

Updated - March 05, 2024 06:59 am IST

Published - March 05, 2024 03:05 am IST - New Delhi

The Ministry of Education has introduced ‘Vidya Pravesh’, to bridge the gap created by the uneven number of years spent by children in Balvatikas

 Sanjay Kumar, Secretary (School Education), stressed on the need to create adequate school infrastructure to meet the demand. File | Photo Credit: VENGADESH R

The Ministry of Education (MoE) wants to ensure that 60 lakh children between the ages of three to six years attend play school or Balvatika, and can be accommodated in 14 lakh Anganwadis across the country, Sanjay Kumar, Secretary (School Education), said. Mr. Kumar was speaking at the Early Childhood Care and Education conference, Udaan 2024, in Delhi on Monday.

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“So the first thing we ask ourselves — do we have [adequate school infrastructure]?” Mr. Kumar said. 

He urged all government and non-government stakeholders to work with the MoE to create mapping towards this. “But then we need to take this matter with the States and nudge them to do it as quickly as possible,” he added. 

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Mr. Kumar said that some schools in Karnataka had started two years of Balvatika in a limited number of schools that had Anganwadis, but they had not started the third year. 

“There are schools where three years of Balvatika are being run, there are schools which are running two years of Balvatika, and there are schools which are running one year of Balvatika,” Mr. Kumar said. 

The MoE has introduced ‘Vidya Pravesh’, to bridge the gap created by the uneven number of years spent by children in the Balvatikas. “We brought in our curriculum, by which if you come to Class 1, having done one year of Balvatika, or maybe two years, or may not have done Balvatika at all then. The ‘Vidya Pravesh’ gives you some kind of knowledge and background to what you should have done otherwise,” Mr. Kumar said. 

The MoE has also issued a notification to all schools, urging them to not admit children below six years of age to Class 1, so that children could receive three years of early childhood education in Balvatikas.

NITI Aayog CEO B.V.R. Subrahmanyan spoke about how some children, at the age of two or three years, could recite immaculate Sanskrit verses, not just a sentence or two, but actually could hold forth for 20 to 30 minutes of recitation, pointing to the importance of early childhood education. 

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